Good news. On Friday my proposal to cut the tax local people pay for their policing gained approval.
The Police and Crime Panel – a committee of local councillors who scrutinise my work and vote on key decisions – supported my plan to reduce the police precept by 5%.
The precept is the part of council tax that the public pay for policing. It accounts for about 45% of my budget of £97m for Dyfed Powys. I set it, as Police and Crime Commissioner, and the Panel approves it. The rest of our money, broadly, comes from the Home Office.
Why have I done this? Because I recognise what too few politicians in Wales do: that there is no such thing as ‘government’ money. All money is taxpayers’ money. People have to earn it first. Whatever politicians take in taxes they cannot spend in looking after their families.
We live in one of the poorest parts of the UK. Public servants have a duty to spend every penny of taxpayers money as if it were their own.
That’s exactly what we’ve done since I was elected in 2012. In 2015 we will have 30 more officers, new mobile tablets that free 100,000 hours of police time and extra support for victims. All for less money than was paid in 2013.
How? We made tough decisions early. I have cut 20% from the top 10 salaries in Dyfed Powys. I set the Chief Constable and his team challenging targets, which they worked hard to deliver.
Now I am able to use those savings to lighten the load on taxpayers a little and maintain the Chief Constable’s budget.
We will continue to invest in cutting crime. I will continue to use savings we have made to reduce costs.
In the meantime, these plans mean that, if you are a Band D council taxpayer in Dyfed Powys you will pay around £200pa, compared to £210 in 2014/15. You will not pay more for policing than you do now until 2018.
That is what I mean by lightening the load. It’s not giving something away; it’s not taking it in the first place. Whose money is it anyway? It’s yours.