This is a short blog to address the uncertainty concerning funding.
This week, on either the 16th or 17th December, we will be told the government grant allocation for West Midlands Police for 2016-17. Two weeks ago we saw the Chancellor announce that police spending had been given “real terms” protection. We now know that he made this claim based on an assumption of council tax increases of the maximum amount allowed for each of the next four years. The Chancellor’s statement took us all by surprise as I honestly expected cuts of 25% over the next five years. We need to be cautious until we understand more.
Firstly, the protection is to overall police spending, not just on police forces like the West Midlands. As you can imagine post Paris there will be increased funding for firearms capability. Cybercrime and digital evidence also needs to be funded as does the replacement for Airwave. The funding reallocations into these areas will be taken from the grant before we receive our allocation.
Secondly, the police funding formula is going to be changed in 2017-18 so our share of the overall grant will almost certainly alter again. As a result of the uncertainty over what West Midlands Police will actually receive in funding we cannot make any statements and will continue to not do so until we have a clearer picture. The Home Secretary has already said there is certainty that our budget will still reduce due to the additional areas I outlined that require funding.
There are different groups of staff affected by the changes in funding, including PCSOs and other police staff. At this point I do not want to differentiate other than to say that we intend to offer clarity as soon as we can.
I can say two things. We can and will continue to save money in areas where we can be more efficient. Savings will be needed. Funds will be needed to invest in new areas. I am optimistic there may be more choice in how and when changes are implemented despite continued year on year cuts.
Finally, we are aiming to lockdown the timetable for the changes to force structure and roles in the new policing model in WMP 2020. Any rumours you hear about what is happening or when are absolutely not true! Command team have not yet agreed an implementation plan.
I am sorry there is so much uncertainty. I think there are reasons to be optimistic going forward. I really hope people can have a good Christmas and Happy New Year and I promise as soon as we have clarity we will tell you.