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Monday, 28 July 2014

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Cumbria police face £12.9m funding gap

Police in Cumbria could be facing a major funding crisis within the next decade.

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A report set to go before the Cumbria police and crime commissioner’s executive panel today shows that the force could be faced with a £12.9 million deficit.

Major projects including fleet replacement and new ICT networks are needed in that time period but due to them having a “short” lifespan, up to 10 years for police cars, the report recommends against borrowing to help manage the costs of the projects.

The deficit is expected to arise in 2018 to 2019 when police capital reserves are expected to have been depleted.

The report, written by Ruth Hunter, chief finance officer, said: “This highlights a shortfall of capital funding over the approved programme of £12.9m over the 10-year period to 2023/24.

“The shortfall arises from 2018/19 when it is anticipated that capital reserves will be depleted, creating an annual deficit between expenditure requirement and available funding.

“The commissioner is also asked to note in particular, the highlighted funding gap on the capital programme in later years and the potential impact of this shortfall on the revenue budget.”

Capital funding is used for fixed assets such as vehicles or IT systems. On Thursday, councillors rejected a proposal to increase the police precept in council tax to 1.93 per cent and Richard Rhodes, police and crime commissioner for Cumbria, warned that, should the government change the police funding formula, the force could be in danger of merger.

Cumbria police receives up to 25 per cent of its budget through a process called damping – which is under Home Office review.

A spokeswoman for Mr Rhodes’ office said yesterday: “Mr Rhodes is reflecting on Thursday’s meeting and is speaking to the chief constable.”

The meeting takes place at Cumbria police’s headquarters in Carleton Hall, in Penrith at 2pm today.

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