Sussex Police could be £11m better off after funding error

PCC Katy Bourne
PCC Katy Bourne

An admission of error by the policing minister could see Sussex Police £11 million better off next year.

An admission of error by the policing minister, described as a “shambles”, could see Sussex Police £11 million better off next year.

An erroneous funding formula resulted in a predicted £7.7 million cut in government funding for the force, which covers Brighton and Hove - but the Home Office has since said Sussex could actually get a £3 million funding boost in 2016/17.

Katy Bourne, police and crime commissioner for Sussex, said: “I would like to thank Sussex MPs for their valuable support around raising this issue and for joining me in making strong representations to the Home Secretary for fairer funding, on behalf of Sussex residents.”

The police force is funded in two ways, through government funding, which is the more substantial figure, and council tax. Sussex Police is the 10th largest force in England and Wales by population - but the erroneous funding estimate would have left it with the 14th lowest government grant per head in the country. It also has the 4th lowest income from council tax.

The incorrect formula would have seen Sussex, among other rural communities, the worst hit with funding for the county set to be cut by 5.1 per cent, while neighbouring Surrey would have received a 3.9 per cent increase in funding.

Peter Kyle, MP for Hove, addressed this imbalance in the House of Commons last week, and said: “Would the Home Secretary say that is fair, and that a city such as Brighton and Hove, which has very specific challenges, could cope with another 5.1 per cent cut?”

The error was discussed in Parliament this week, where policing minister Mike Penning apologised for the “statistical error” in the funding formula, and said the calculations would be revised. Labour MP Keith Vaz, the chairman of the home affairs select committee, called the mistake a “shambles”.

The announcement on police funding for 2016/17 has now been delayed, and the correct figures will now be revealed in December - instead of later this month.