Yesterday Gideon revealed to the world his 2013 Spending Review. I’ll keep it brief, I won’t go through it item by item, we’d all lose the will to live. The Headline Figure for me was that “Police Budget will be cut by less than 6%”. We’ve heard since that the actual figure will be 4.9%. This on top of the 20% already announced and being suffered by many. Where exactly will these savings come from in a resource that’s already been cut to the bone and beyond?
In his response to Gideon’s speech Ed Balls informed us that Police and Crime Commissioners are costing the country more than the Police Authorities that they replaced. This is something that I had long-since suspected but had not heard quoted before. So I did some digging.
More than a third of police and crime commissioners are already costing the public more than the police authorities they were elected to replace last November, according to parliamentary research.
The Commons Home Affairs Select Committee says six months after their election, 17 out of the 41 PCCs have set budgets higher than the police authorities they replaced. The largest increase so far is a rise of 133% in Hampshire where the police authority budget of £1.5m last year has risen to £3.5m this year.
The report noted large differences in the size of staff and the additional roles created.
The report said the PCCs were reporting their costs in different ways, which made direct comparisons difficult.
It also noted significant differences in the size of the PCC offices – the Greater Manchester PCC employs 45 people while Northumbria PCC employs four.
Keith Vaz, the Home Affairs Committee chairman, said the survey showed a national register for PCCs was vital for local accountability despite the idea having been rejected by the home secretary, Theresa May.
He said there was an urgent need to guard against “maverick decision-making” by PCCs, citing the examples of the suspension of the Lincolnshire chief constable, controversial appointments such as the “youth PCC” in Kent, and commissioners with second, third and even fourth jobs.
So much for budget cuts eh?
And if this isn’t bad enough, on the very same day that Gideon outlined his 4.9% slash of Police Budgets it was announced (quite separately obviously) that HS2, the High Speed rail link that seemingly nobody but the coalition actually wants, is likely to cost £10 BILLION MORE than previously estimated.
What could you do with £10 Billion? How many cuts would be necessary with £10 Billion? How many cuts could be saved if PCCs were not so expensive? It’s relatively small amounts of money but it’s the principle that counts. We are all in this together after all.
I have blogged before on government wastage. Just go over to the Big Picture and search on ‘wastage’ if you want to read the articles, I won’t bore you here.
But at least we know what the government really thinks of the Police, Armed Forces, NHS etc etc. A bloody train line is more important.
Enjoy your cornflakes, rant over for now.