Having found himself in what he described as an invidious financial position Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland’s Police and Crime Commissioner Rupert Matthews today set out the scale of the problem to the County’s Police and Crime Panel.
Having expressed concerns about the long-term sustainability of the Medium-Term Financial Plan (MTFP), he added that he felt the paper brought to the Panel in January 2021 did not take into account all the financial risks and implications, some of which had in fact subsequently changed.
Mr Matthews was clear that he could not support the use of the Budget Equalisation Reserve (BER) to supplement the police budget with a significant increase in establishment.
He said: “I am concerned that the budget as agreed in January 2021 will set Leicestershire Police on an inevitable course of action to reverse its promise to increase the officer numbers to avoid a substantial budget deficit.
“If the original MTFP presented by the former Commissioner and the subsequent approach to managing the budget continues, then the Force will undoubtedly have a budgetary deficit of in excess of £11m at some point in 2023 or 2024.
“I am not prepared to accept this high-risk approach and I am seeking a detailed strategy from the Force to mitigate the risk in the short term and reduce the deficit in the longer term.”
The full scale of the problem is likely to become clearer when the Government delivers its promised three-year Comprehensive Spending Review in December. It is hoped that clarity will be given regarding Government funding over the next three years alongside precept referendum thresholds. Assumptions regarding pay inflation are also likely to alter over time.
Mr Matthews assured the Panel that he was seeking solutions in consultation with the Chief Constable. He added that in aid of that process, the financial situation and future outlook would be subject to an appraisal by the Home Office in early September.
He said that he would return to the Panel with an updated report when the picture was clearer and thanked them for their input and support.
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Posted on Friday 30th July 2021