Bexhill and Battle MP, Huw Merriman, has this week called on the Government to support Sussex Police, and its Police and Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne, to help to cover the bill for a nationwide police pension fund shortfall.
The call came following news that increases to police employer contributions means an extra £165 million will need to be found by police forces across the country.
For Sussex Police, this could mean an additional £3.2m for 2019/20. The MP raised concerns directly with the Police Minister that meeting the pensions liability could come at the expense of the 200 additional police officers being recruited locally. Speaking in the House of Commons, the MP said: ‘With Sussex Police having welcomed 150 new police officers at the end of October, funded by council tax increases, will my Rt Hon Friend work with me and Katy Bourne to ensure that the police force has all the resources at its disposal to carry on increasing police numbers?”
Responding, the Police Minister, Nick Hurd reassured the MP by saying “The public’s safety is the priority of this Government. We have made clear the priority we attach to police funding, and the Home Secretary has made his priority clear personally. We are absolutely determined to make sure the police have the resources they need.”
Speaking after the exchange in Parliament, Mr Merriman said “Local Council Tax payers were levied an additional £12 per year, on a Band D property, for more police officers. Residents I speak to support this move but may not be so understanding if the additional funding is instead used to meet pension liabilities. I am looking to the Government to find ways to fund this shortfall centrally, albeit I accept that other public service budgets will have to meet the cost.”
Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne said “I am really grateful to Huw for his support for vital police funding and we also continue to work hard to put our important case to the Treasury.”
Watch a video of the exchange in Parliament here: https://goo.gl/tD7vqa