No more to pay for Lancashire Police on council tax bills

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LANCASHIRE Police Authority has opted to freeze its council tax bill which means Burnley, Pendle and Ribble Valley residents will not pay any more for policing next year.

The decision was made following a meeting to set the 2011-12 budget and will mean the Constabulary qualifies for a Government grant. Police Authorities that preserve current council tax rates are entitled to a Council Tax Freeze Grant, equivalent to a 2.5% increase in their share of the charge.

Lancashire Constabulary and Police Authority are facing unprecedented change over the coming months as they grapple with substantially less funding than previous years. However, they remain committed to achieving the best outcome for the county’s residents and recognise the hardship they face in this difficult financial climate.

The force is required to save £42m. from its budget over the next four years - £29m. of which needs to be found before March 2013.

This will be achieved through organisational reviews which will restructure various departments and reduce posts. The programme has been underway for some time and has already made significant progress, with savings of £19m. identified. However, further savings of £23m. are needed before 2014-15.

Lancashire Police Authority has also played its part by identifying spending cuts and improved ways of working.

The authority agreed to review all areas of its budget when the Government’s requirement to achieve reductions of 20% over the next four years was made clear and will reduce spending by £333,000 by April.

As a result of this joint work, the budget for policing in Lancashire in the coming year is £275m. while the Council Tax remains unchanged at £146.27 for a band D property.

Coun. Malcolm Doherty, of Lancashire Police Authority, said: “The Police Authority has agreed a budget which will ensure Lancashire’s residents will not have to pay out any more for policing next year in what we appreciate is a challenging financial period for households.

“The Constabulary and authority also find themselves in particularly testing circumstances but we have been anticipating the funding difficulties for some time and have been able to fully prepare ourselves to reduce the impact of any cuts on frontline services.

“Substantial savings have already been made by examining internal processes and restructuring departments, with changes to managerial posts and clerical support staff.

“Our intention throughout this cost-saving drive has always been to protect as much as possible those services valued by our communities while still streamlining our operation and improving effectiveness.

“Lancashire prides itself on the quality of its police force, which regularly tops the country’s performance rankings.

“Despite the financial pressures we face, and the likely reduction in staff capacity, we will not compromise this ambition and will do everything in our power to continue to deliver excellent performance and ensure our communities remain among the safest in the country.”