Last week, I spoke out about the announcement that has been made by the Treasury about the revaluation of the police pensions.
In September, Liz Truss announced that following a four-yearly review, extra contributions would need to be found to from Forces as employers to support police pensions. Whilst there is some support from the Treasury for this, it still equates to Police forces having to find an extra £417m a year to fund this gap.
Even with one year of support from the Treasury in 2019/20 (any future support will be dealt with by the forthcoming Spending Review we are told) it represents an £11.5m bill for Kent Police over the next two years. That’s just not feasible.
In order to just stand still, I am currently working with Kent Police on a savings plan of £25m between this year and 2021. This will be achieved with what I am assured is little impact on the frontline, and during the biggest recruitment drive in a generation.
To add this pension requirement on top, with other new funding pressures that have been identified, it runs the risk of consuming the entirety of any extra funding from council tax. This is not fair on council taxpayers.
Other Forces are not in the same position of financial strength as Kent is. It will potentially mean cuts to numbers. But let’s not pretend that this will fall entirely on Police Officer numbers – Police staff would also likely be affected, with remaining PCSOs, analysts and other roles up for discussion by their Chief Constables where they are in financial difficulty.
I have taken this up with the Chancellor, and I have been grateful for the support of a number of MPs in this endeavour.
But let’s be clear – this funding problem will be a huge problem in terms of the Policing response that Forces will be able to provide if there is no long term Treasury support.