Your newspaper reports that council tax payers are being asked to consider paying extra for police services.
You also report that the Police and Crime Commissioner has made savings from the office budget, primarily by cutting office staff from 11 to 8.7 full-time equivalent posts, which will allow for the funding of 11 staff to work within the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub and the new Safeguarding Children Online Team.
While it is commendable that Mr Bett is making such savings, and not questioning the wisdom of such new appointments, it raises the question in my mind about the sums involved. Unfortunately, we are not given such information. However, using some arithmetic and a degree of conjecture, we might be able to put some figures to the savings.
A reasonable, conservative, estimate might be that these 11 posts will cost about £20,000 per annum each – a total of close to a quarter of a million pounds. This to be funded from the saving of 2.3 staff salaries, implying that each of those salaries was of the order of £108,000.
By any measure, a salary of £108,000 is quite handsome – and must surely be awarded only to a well-qualified and valuable member of staff. It seems to be extraordinary that such highly paid staff can be dispensed with without jeopardising the work of the Commissioner.
Assuming that Mr Bett does not intend to put his office in jeopardy, a conclusion might be that these staff were unnecessary and that something approaching a quarter of a million pounds was factored into the budget unnecessarily. Moreover, future savings will fund 10 PCSOs to work in schools.
A reasonable assumption is that further savings of about £200,000 per year will be required to finance this. Total savings required for these two projects must therefore be about £½ million.
If such savings can be made, it suggests that the budget was somewhat profligate.
My figures are based on conjecture. It would be instructive therefore if Mr Bett, in the interests of the taxpayer and for the sake of clarity, could provide the real figures involved, before council tax payers can come to firm conclusions about whether they would be willing to pay more for police services.
Hall Farm Gardens