GMCA

Mayor commits to named Neighourhood Police Officer and named PCSO for every GM local authority ward

  • Commitment comes as part of a lower precept increase for Greater Manchester services compared to 2019-20 (Band B property)
  • Third consecutive year of recruiting more police officers – and new figures from Greater Manchester Police show that the force will this year have 500 more police officers in 2020 than in 2017 when the Mayor first took office
  • Mayor allocates increased resources for Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service to recruit over 100 firefighters this year whilst putting on hold plans for station mergers in Bolton

MAYOR of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham has announced a lower council tax increase for Greater Manchester services than 2019/20 but is still able to support the recruitment of more police officers and firefighters. The budget was passed at the Combined Authority meeting today [Fri 14 Feb 2020] and will be added to local council tax bills when they are set by each of the 10 Greater Manchester councils for 2020/21.

Under the Mayoral General Budget and precept, the council tax is set to rise by £10.89 this year in Greater Manchester to £70.73 for a Band B property (£90.95 for a Band D property – an increase of £14.00). The police precept will rise by £7.78 for a Band B property (£10 for a Band D property).

For the 2019/20 budget, a Band B property saw total council tax increase by £25.67 with £18.67 on police and a protected fire budget (£33 total increase with £24 on police for a Band D property). With a police precept of £7.78 for 2020/21 and a fire element to the precept, this will mean a proposed total increase of £18.67 for a Band B property, whilst at the same time recruiting more police officers and firefighters (£24 for Band D property).

Council tax pays for a proportion of every day local services for children, older people and places in Greater Manchester.  But part of the bill – called a precept – is assigned to the Mayor to help fund those Greater Manchester-wide services for which he is responsible.

The Mayor said: “When I speak to residents in Greater Manchester, they tell me that their highest priority is investing in policing and emergency services. Following a decade of government cuts to Greater Manchester Police and Fire and Rescue Service, we are having to work hard to protect frontline services. But because of the difficult decisions I have made there are more police officers and more firefighters in post in Greater Manchester than there were when I was elected in 2017. And following the approval of my budget today I am now committing to a named Neighbourhood Police Officer and named PCSO in every one of our 215 local authority wards across Greater Manchester.”

Greater Manchester Police: Frontline officers

2017

6,159

2018

6,210

2019

6,340

2020

6,660

2021

7,007

 

Fire and Rescue Service

The Fire and Rescue Service has been under significant funding pressures caused by central government cuts since 2010. However, the Mayor is committed to keeping people safe and has therefore increased the Fire and Rescue Service element of the Mayoral Precept by £4.86 taking it to £51.48 for a Band B property (£66.20 for a Band D property – an increase of £6.25). This will mean the recruitment of 108 firefighters in 2020/21.

This precept increase is necessary because following the publication of the Mayoral decision notice relating to the GMFRS Programme for Change, a number of factors have arisen which have presented new and complex challenges for the Service to consider. The recent major fire at the Cube in Bolton, and the publication of the Grenfell phase one inquiry have highlighted increased challenges regarding both the built environment and how to ensure the Fire Service has sufficient resources to be able to respond to such events in a safe and effective manner.

The Fire Cover Review which was completed as part of the Programme for Change, utilised a wide spectrum of data and information which was available, at that time, to identify a range of operational planning assumptions, one of which included the potential merger of six fire stations including Bolton Central and North fire stations. It is entirely appropriate that the Fire Service now takes some time to digest the learning from both Grenfell and the Cube fire, and to re-evaluate the operational benefits and appropriateness of the planned mergers, and at this time the proposed merger of the two stations in Bolton is paused.

The Mayor will also defer a number of planned changes in the Programme for Change having listened to feedback on the original proposals. As a result, the current pump numbers (fire engines) across Greater Manchester will be maintained at 50. In addition the crewing levels on those 50 fire engines will remain at the current minimum levels of 5 firefighters on fire engines at one pump stations and 4 firefighters on each fire engines at 2 pump stations. 

 

Mayor Andy Burnham said: “Our Fire and Rescue Service has been hammered over the years due to funding cuts by central government – a loss of £23.8m since 2010. My priority has always been to keep people in Greater Manchester safe and that is why I have found extra resources for GMFRS to mitigate to effects of government cuts. I have heard concerns about fire station mergers, not least in Bolton. In light of that I am proposing to put that merger on hold to allow further consultation with Bolton Council and community leaders.

“I have also committed to maintaining 50 fire pumps in Greater Manchester and existing crewing levels on them. But the time has come to make it clear to the government, particularly post-Grenfell, that essential local emergency services cannot continue to be funded in this way. We now call upon the government to address Fire Service funding in its forthcoming Budget and bring to an end these dangerous cuts.”

Police

The police service has suffered from years of central government cuts to funding. Around 80% of Greater Manchester Police’s budget comes from a central government grant, but this has been cut by £215m since 2010, which has seen the loss of 2,000 police officers and 1,000 non-police staff. This is against a backdrop of increasing crime and complex demand such as cybercrime, child sexual exploitation and human trafficking.

In order to continue to keep people safe in Greater Manchester, the police precept has been used to mitigate some of these cuts.  Greater Manchester council tax payers have paid for an extra 350 police officers, who have been recruited over the last two years to tackle crime and keep communities safe while calls have consistently been made to government to provide more funding.

The government announced on Wednesday 22 January 2020 a £1.1 billion increase in their direct grant to fund police services. This equates to an additional £40m for Greater Manchester for 2020/21. This money has to be used to recruit the first wave of 20,000 additional police officers as part of the government’s three-year police officer uplift programme. Of the 6,000 to be recruited in 2020/21, 347 of these new officers will be in Greater Manchester.

On Friday 31 January 2020, the Greater Manchester Police and Crime Panel voted unanimously in favour of raising the police element of the council tax by £7.78 year for a Band B property (£10 for a Band D property).

This follows a public consultation in which 58% of respondents said that they support, in principle, an increase of up to £2 per month or more (for the average band D household) as part of their local council tax payment to help Greater Manchester Police invest in neighbourhood policing

Other initiatives the extra funding will support include:

  • Named Neighbourhood Beat Officers and PSCOs in every ward in Greater Manchester
  • Schools based police officers in Greater Manchester schools with the greatest need
  • Improvement of the 101 service by continuing to fund the 40 additional call handlers

 

Deputy Mayor for Greater Manchester Bev Hughes said: “Whilst I welcome the fact that the government looks to have delivered on its promise to invest in more police officers, this announcement is long overdue and we are far from undoing the damage of the last decade that has seen local policing cut to the bone. It certainly falls far short of the £215m that’s been cut from the budget in Greater Manchester since 2010, but it’s a small first step in strengthening police officer numbers to a sustainable level and ensuring our police service is fairly funded."

 

Care leavers

The Mayor will provide free bus travel to care leavers up to the age of 21. This delivers on the Combined Authority’s commitment in the Care Leavers Guarantee and Core Offer to provide free bus travel for 18-21 year old care leavers in Greater Manchester. This is part of a range of commitments made by the Mayor to support care leavers including a council tax exemption which came into force in April 2019.

The Mayor said: “I’m delivering on our commitment to care leavers who we know face major disadvantages in life. I want to do what I can with the powers I have to help ease some of the pressures on them by helping them get around by providing free bus travel.

”Lessons from the Independent Assurance Review into Child Sexual Exploitation in Greater Manchester that I set up, found that some children in care homes suffered terrible exploitation but were failed by the very agencies that should have protected them. Children in care are our most vulnerable and everyone should do what they can to help them get on in life.”

Currently Our Pass is available to young people aged 16-18 who can take advantage of free bus travel across Greater Manchester for a one-off £10 administrative fee. At the start of the year there were over 125 opportunities live on the Our Pass website. Over 38,000 cards have been issued, with holders making more than 5.4 million bus journeys since the scheme launched. On average over 250,000 journeys per week are being made by card holders.

The budget passed today means the successful Our Pass pilot which started in September 2019 can continue.

 

Rough sleeping

Funding will be provided to support the Mayor’s successful scheme to help rough sleepers – A Bed Every Night (ABEN).

The number of people sleeping rough in the Greater Manchester city-region has fallen by 37% in one year, confirmed through the rough sleeper count that took place in November 2019. The number of people sleeping rough has fallen from 241 in November 2018 to 111.

Since devolution in Greater Manchester in 2017 and various initiatives to tackle rough sleeping, the number of people sleeping rough has dropped 44% in two years, after increasing nearly every year since 2010. In England as a total, the number of people sleeping rough increased 269% between 2010-17 before falling by 1.5% in 2018.

ABEN provides a bed and personal support on an emergency basis to people sleeping rough who don’t qualify for statutory provision. ABEN has supported nearly 3318 people with 1186 people assisted into longer term accommodation.  On 24 January, 496 people were in ABEN accommodation.

 

Overall costs, and what it means for my household

The budget passed today means the total amount of the precept - fire and other mayoral functions, but not police - for 2020/21 will be £70.73 for the average Band B property in Greater Manchester – compared to £59.84 for 2019/20, which is an increase of £10.89.

Council tax is paid by households and is based on the value of their property. That means that some people pay more, and some pay less than the figures cited, but it’s important to give an average as this gives a sense to residents of what the cost is. Nationally, averages are usually shown based on a Band D property – but in Greater Manchester the vast majority pay less as 82.6% of properties are in either Bands A, B or C. That’s why we’re quoting Band B here as it is the average.

The table below shows the cost to households in each of the bands:

AMOUNTS OF COUNCIL TAX FOR EACH BAND

2020/21

A

B

C

D

E

F

G

 H

Costs by band – Mayoral priorities & Fire

£60.63

£70.73

£80.84

£90.95

£111.16

£131.37

£151.58

 £181.90

Increase per year

£9.34

£10.89

£12.45

£14.00

£17.11

£20.22

£23.34

 

£28.00

 

Costs by band - Police

£138.86

£162.01

£185.15

£208.30

£254.58

£300.87

£347.16

 £416.60

Increase per year

£6.66

£7.78

£8.88

£10.00

£12.21

£14.44

£16.66

 

£20.00

 

Proportion of properties %

45.6

19.6

17.4

9.2

4.8

2

1.2

 0.2


Article Published: 14/02/2020 13:02 PM