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South Wales Police & Crime Commissioner joins calls for Prime Minister to correct her figures after scathing watchdog findings

Last Updated: 21/03/2018

Following news that the Prime Minister has been officially rebuked by the UK Statistics Authority, for misleading MPs and the public over false claims that the government is providing an extra £450m in 2018/19 to fund to local police forces, South Wales Police & Crime Commissioner Rt Hon Alun Michael has added his support to demands for the Prime Minister to set the record straight.

Commissioner Alun Michael said: “The Prime Minister has claimed repeatedly that the Government have provided an extra £450m for police spending over the next financial year, despite challenges from myself and many other Commissioners who know that the money provided by the UK Government to local police forces has been cut significantly in real terms. We would love to have some extra money but we have argued consistently that these claims are inaccurate, misleading and detrimental to public confidence. The ruling by the UK Statistics Authority shows that we were right.”

Following a review called for by the Shadow Police & Crime Minister, the independent watchdog has now identified that far from providing extra money the annual Police Grant has actually been a “flat cash settlement” for police forces in England & Wales and actually amounted to a cut in direct Whitehall grants to local policing. Apart from making no allowance for inflation the Government added 1% to the police pay increase without providing the money to pay for it, and has taken further money out of local police funds through the Apprenticeship Levy, costing South Wales Police about another £1million in a year.

Mr Michael pointed out that the Prime Minister’s figure was based on an assumption that an extra £270 million would be raised from local taxes – money that comes from local council tax payers and not from the Government – and she included £130 million earmarked for “national police priorities” that would never be available to local policing, as well as a further £50million ring fenced for national counter-terrorism work.

Mr Michael added: “Unfortunately, the Government has tried to mislead the public while shifting the burden of police funding onto council tax payers through the police precept, whilst at the same time making Police & Crime Commissioners directly responsible for the inevitable increases required to provide effective policing.

“Here in South Wales an increase has been essential to help maintain the service, while allowing us to protect vulnerable people and continue to invest in the future of policing in South Wales. Even with the increase in 2018/19 we will have to cut spending by £3.5million in the coming year while tackling significant growth in demand and preventing crime through early intervention and prompt, positive action. The Chief Constable and his team will work hard to meet it and to keep South Wales safe, but it’s good that the independent watchdog has recognised the reality of the financial challenge we face. We should all be very proud of the high performance of South Wales Police despite all these pressures.

“The added frustration here in South Wales is that, despite repeated calls for a review, the Home Office still doesn’t recognise the extra cost of policing the capital city, so South Wales Police is further short changed whereas additional money is provided to forces policing London and Edinburgh. We share the ambitions of Cardiff and indeed Swansea to host major events and all we seek is honesty and fairness in the way money for policing is provided by the Home Office.”

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