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A Westminster Hall debate on the effect of reductions in funding to police, fire and rescue services will be held on Wednesday 20 February from 9.30am. The Member opening the debate is Grahame Morris MP.

Police forces

Between 2010 and 2015 police forces made combined savings worth £1.5billion as part of the Coalition Government’s programme of deficit reduction. In the 2015 Spending Review the Government committed to protect overall police spending in real terms (i.e. in line with inflation) up to 2019.

The Government says it recognises that the police are “under pressure due to the changing nature of crime”. In 2019/20 total direct resource funding, including pensions grant, for England and Wales will increase to just over £12.1 billion in 2019/20 from just over £11.03 billion in 2018/19 – a cash rise of 7.2% (see below for details).

It is up to individual Police and Crime Commissioners how they allocate funding to their force. Police forces have taken a variety of measures to meet their funding challenges. The National Audit Office (NAO) has identified some key ways in which police forces are saving money:

  • Reducing staff numbers.
  • Selling capital assets (including property and land).
  • Spending less on large scale projects. For example, IT transformation.
  • Making efficiency savings

Many have raised concerns about the impact of funding constraints on police services. Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services found that almost a quarter of forces are not meeting their demand or are managing their demand inappropriately. However, the inspectorate did note that “on the whole, the inspections we have carried out during the past year show that the effectiveness and efficiency of the police service are improving.” The NAO found that there are “signs emerging that forces are finding it harder to deliver an effective service”. The Home Affairs Select Committee argue that “without extra funding, something will have to give, and the police will not be able to fulfil their duties in delivering public safety, criminal justice, community cohesion and public confidence.”

Fire and rescue services

Fire and rescue services have seen large reductions to their funding since 2010. In 2012 (then) Fire Minister Brandon Lewis commissioned Sir Ken Knight to review how fire and rescue authorities could make efficiency savings without impacting on front line services. Sir Ken’s report Facing the future found that there was scope for fire authorities to transform their services and make efficiency savings.

The NAO published two reports on fire and rescue services on November 2015. On the whole the NAO found that fire and rescue authorities have managed funding reductions well.

The Fire Brigade Union have been critical of the reduction in fire and rescue budgets. They are currently running a campaign to save our fire and rescue service.

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