Tough decisions ahead as John seeks £34m in savings

CHESHIRE Police’s commissioner could have some tough decisions ahead when he drafts his first budget.

John Dwyer needs to find £34 million in savings by 2017 due to dramatic cuts in Government funding.

He will be setting his first budget in March 2013 after being elected as Police and Crime Commissioner in November.

Mr Dwyer will be balancing whether there should be a tax increase for residents in tough economic times with the importance of frontline policing when making his decision.

The total grant allocated to Cheshire has decreased by 1.6 per cent – £1.9 million – compared to last year.

A further £34 million in savings are needed over the next four years, of which £6 million must be made in 2013/14.

This is on top of £27 million savings made since 2010.

Mr Dwyer said: “As I said in my election campaign, I intend to protect and where possible enhance frontline policing by improving efficiency and driving down costs, although the scale of cuts needed makes this extremely challenging.

“During January I will be consulting the public and other agencies about my priorities and savings proposals for 2013/14.

“I will also be asking for people’s views about the amount of council tax they are prepared to pay for policing in Cheshire.”

At the moment people living in band D properties pay £150 for policing.

If the council tax is frozen at this level, the Government has offered a grant for two years equivalent to a one per cent rise of the council tax.

Another proposal is for council tax to rise by two per cent in 2013/14 – £3 per year for the average household – which would deliver £1.2 million in savings.

Mr Dwyer added: “I need to understand what people think about these options and whether they think savings are more important than policing during a time when I know that everyone has financial challenges.”

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