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Police Grant Report | Commons debates

My right hon. Friend is absolutely right, and having been there and seen it, I pay tribute to him for the work that he has done in his area. Indeed, that force makes good use of the public money that is available to it.

On the one hand, the Government are bragging about letting local areas put up council tax on hard-working people and, on the other, they are telling police and crime commissioners not to. We think that they will all be forced into doing it because, as my right hon. Friend the Member for North Durham (Mr Jones) just said, what else can they do? The truth is that the Government are failing to support a police service that is already overstretched and struggling to deliver justice for victims.

What about the funding formula more broadly? How many times have we stood here and heard Ministers say that there will be a consultation, which is then kicked into the long grass? The Minister’s predecessor, the right hon. Member for North West Hampshire, said in 2015 that the formula was “manifestly unfair”, and many colleagues from across the House have called for change every single time we debate policing. West Midlands police estimate that it costs them £40 million a year and that, despite the police replacement uplift, they will still have 1,000 fewer officers than in 2010. Merseyside police are still 450 officers short of their 2010 numbers. North Yorkshire will end up with more police officers in 2023 than they had in 2010. Durham will have 144 fewer.

The chair of the Police Federation says that the uplift programme is:

“misleading and fails to recognise reality.”

Of course, forces will be fined for not meeting uplift targets when, at the same time, record numbers are leaving the force. In the year to March 2022, 8,117 police officers left the service—the highest number of leavers since comparable records began. Police chiefs are tied to the Government’s pledge to recruit officers, so they are losing vital civilian and police staff and are forced to backfill them with new officer recruits. The ring-fenced uplift puts huge pressure on forces to make savings without touching officer posts.

Does the Minister agree with his predecessor, the right hon. Member for North West Hampshire, that the funding formula is “manifestly unfair”? Will he work at pace to introduce a new funding formula so that we can tackle some of those disparities?