COUNCIL taxpayers will be asked to pay an average extra £5 a year to help police in the fight against crime.
It is despite thousands of officer and civilian job losses at the West Midlands force since 2010 in response to government ‘austerity’ funding cuts to forces.
Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson bucked the trend last year by announcing 800 new officers, 150 PCSOs and 200 specialist police staff to stem the worst of the cuts.
The West Midlands Police and Crime Panel has now voted to support the 2017/18 budget plans for West Midlands Police, with no votes against.
It means the policing precept – the part of council tax that goes to the police – will increase by 10p a week (£5 a year) for a Band D council taxpayer.
The Band D precept currently stands at £111.55 and will rise to £116.55 in April.
Mr Jamieson said: “The public have made it clear to me that despite government cuts they want local neighbourhood policing to be protected.
“To protect neighbourhood policing, and get the force ready for the new threats the West Midlands faces, I am recruiting 800 officers, 150 PCSOs and 200 specialist police staff.
“The government have made it clear that to cover their reduction in police funding they expect PCCs to increase council tax precept by the maximum amount. In the West Midlands that would mean council tax increasing by £5 a year or just under 10p a week for a Band D council taxpayer.
“In short, the government is funding the police at a lower level and has made it clear that it expects local people to pay more. In the West Midlands that means that there will be a 10p a week (£5 a year) increase on the policing precept for a Band D council taxpayer.
“… The panel also noted that West Midlands Police continues to offer excellent value for money compared to neighbouring forces, who even after this increase will all be charging over £60 more than we do for policing.”
In 2017/18 the West Midlands Police precept will still be the second lowest in the country at £116.55 per annum (for a Band D council taxpayer) compared with the current (2016/17) highest of £220.19 in Surrey, Mr Jamieson says.
The policing precept on a Band D property in Staffordshire is £177.61, West Mercia £189.90 and Warwickshire £191.98.
Mr Jamieson add that as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review last year, the chancellor Philip Hammond gave forces with historically low precepts, such as West Midlands, the ability to raise their precept by £5 a year, compared to 2 per cent for other areas.
The provisional grant settlement from the government has indicated that West Midlands Police would receive £6 million less funding this year, he added.