Police funding: up or down?

29 March 2017
What was claimed

The government is protecting police budgets.

Our verdict

Central government funding is being cut in real terms over the course of this parliament, but police funding overall will stay the same if local taxation for the police is maximised.

What was claimed

Central government funding to police forces will be cut by £330 million in real terms between 2015 and 2018.

Our verdict

That’s correct, totalling up central government grants to individual police forces and adjusting for inflation.

“Between 2015 and 2018 there’ll be a real-terms cut in central government funding to police forces of £330 million.”

Jeremy Corbyn, 29 March 2017

“What we’ve done in the [Comprehensive Spending Review] is actually protected that police budget [...] we have protected those police budgets, including of course the precept that they are able to raise locally.”

Theresa May, 29 March 2017

The two party leaders are talking about slightly different things here. Both have a point—the local “precept” for police funding in England and Wales that Mrs May referred to is the key to understanding why.

Police funding from central government is going to be cut in real terms over the next few years—1.4% between 2015/16 and 2019/20, according to the government’s own figures.

Mr Corbyn’s claim covers a shorter timeframe and a slightly narrower definition of central government funding, according to calculations provided by his office.

We’ve checked these and got almost exactly the same results as Labour: this amount is set to go from £7.6 billion in 2015/16 to £7.5 billion in 2017/18. That’s a reduction of £0.33 billion (or £330 million) once expected inflation is factored in.

But a good chunk of police funding is raised through local taxation on top of what central government provides. The government assumes that all local Police and Crime Commissioners will raise the maximum from this precept that they’re allowed to.

If they do, then police funding overall will remain flat in real terms over the course of the parliament.

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