Peter Dowd (Bootle) (Lab): The hon. Member for South Dorset (Richard Drax) is not in the Chamber, which is regrettable. He complained about the formula and the distribution. In my local authority over the past five years, we have had five times the amount of cuts that South Dorset has had. I am fearful that the police funding formula will do the same to policing as the Government did to local government.
Mr Jones: My hon. Friend makes a very good point. That was exactly what was designed in the formula. The Government were found out by the PCC for Devon and Cornwall. I accept what my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Steve McCabe) said about the Minister, but he is just a small cog in the huge machine. The machine is about devolving blame but not resources to local authorities. They devolve the blame to local decision makers and point the finger at them when cuts have to be made. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, who is the real villain of the piece, can stand back and say, “Not me, guv!”
Since 2010, £2.2 billion—22% of the funding—has been taken out of police budgets in this country. I do not accept that an average constituent of mine understands how police funding is arrived at. It is unique in the sense that two-thirds of it—the bulk of it—comes from central Government. Many people feel that what they pay, for example in local rates, pays for local services. We know that that is not the case.
The system is very uneven. Some authorities are able to raise more in local precept than others. Areas such as mine are unable to raise a large amount. In Durham, 55% of properties are band A, so a 2% increase in the budget would raise nothing like the amount that could be raised in Surrey or in other parts of the country. That leads me to one of the issues highlighted by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the autumn statement: the ability to argue that some of the lower precept local authorities can now not be bound by the 2% limit but by a £5 increase.
Again, all that does is help the wealthier areas. If we were allowed to do that in Durham, it would raise hardly anything compared with some of the more well-off forces such as Essex, Herefordshire and others. Again, that needs to be looked at.
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