Maximum council tax rise agreed to fund cash-strapped West Midlands Police

Council tax bills will go up by the maximum rate of £15-a-year to pay for policing in the West Midlands.

Council tax is going up again to fund West Midlands Police
Council tax is going up again to fund West Midlands Police

The region's police and crime panel has signed off on Labour Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster's budget for 2023-24.

It will see the police precept of council tax go up by £15-a-year for a Band D property – the maximum allowed by law without holding a referendum.

It marks the latest in a succession of annual rises, with the cash-strapped force also in the midst of a long-running programme of selling off closed down police stations in a bid to make ends meet.

Mr Foster said the budget will mean more bobbies on the beat. although he said the force would remain "under financial pressure".

He said: "Passing this budget means we are able to continue to put more neighbourhood police officers into our communities.

"People told me that they wanted preventative, proactive, problem solving and visible police officers out on the streets, keeping people, their families and communities, safe and secure. This budget will contribute to that."

Mr Foster said the Government had left the him with no choice but to increase the council tax precept, with the force facing a funding deficit of £30m over the next year.

He has called for additional funding to return officer numbers back to the level they were at in 2010.

Mr Foster said: "The harsh reality is that the Government has provided us with a stark choice. Increase the council tax police precept or face yet further cuts to policing, that would see us lose the equivalent of 260 frontline officers.

"By 2024, in the West Midlands, we will still have 1,000 fewer police officers than we had in 2010 – whilst at the same time, there are police forces in other parts of the country that now have more police officers than they have ever previously had in their history.

"I will continue to campaign and make representations to central government for the return of our 1,000 missing officers and to secure fair funding for West Midlands Police, to keep the people of the West Midlands safe and secure."

West Midlands Police is nearing the end of a recruitment drive as part of the Government's uplift programme that will see an extra 1,218 officers taken on.

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