West Midlands Police facing £60 million budget black hole, warns commissioner

West Midlands Police faces a budget black hole of £60 million unless it receives an uplift in Government funding, the force's commissioner has warned.

West Midlands Police could have to make more cuts due to a budget shortfall, according to the PCC
West Midlands Police could have to make more cuts due to a budget shortfall, according to the PCC

Simon Foster said the force would be left with no alternative but to make sweeping cuts once it is left with the annual deficit by 2025/26.

He said the situation was being impacted by rising costs and inflation and comes despite the force already planning annual savings of £10m.

The Labour Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) has called on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to step in with a "fair funding package" that helps the force to balance the books.

West Midlands Police received the biggest funding boost of any force outside the Met this year, with an extra £36m coming alongside cash for 1,200 extra officers over three years.

But Mr Foster said the force was having to work "from one year to the next" and could not properly plan due to there being no long-term funding settlement in place.

He said: "There is no levelling-up when it comes to police officer numbers in the West Midlands, in fact unless the government puts in place more funding we will be facing annual cuts of £60 million to deal with rising costs.

"West Midlands Police are doing all they can to drive efficiencies and have already planned annual savings of £10 million.

"The Government needs to step up too and put a fair funding package in place for West Midlands Police."

Budget cutting measures have seen police stations across the region closed and sold off, including several in the Black Country.

Mr Foster has argued that the current funding formula used by the Government disadvantages West Midlands Police as it does not take into account levels of demand.

He says it has left the force £22m a year worse off than Greater Manchester Police.

The Express & Star revealed last month that Mr Foster had made a formal submission to the Chancellor's comprehensive spending review requesting a new funding settlement.

He has asked for more than £50m for an extra 1,000 officers which he says will make up the shortfall from the current recruitment drive.

Tories across the region have hit out at Mr Foster for continuing the politicisation of the PCC's role that started under his predecessor David Jamieson.

They have urged him to focus on tackling crime in the West Midlands, which was the only region in the country to see rising crime in the most recent published data.

Dudley South MP Mike Wood said: "It is time for the PCC to stop making excuses and start delivering on his promises to cut crime."

This year the region's policing budget has risen nearly six per cent from £619.7m to £655.6m.

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