Page last updated at 09:51 GMT, Monday, 4 May 2009 10:51 UK

Police budget cap 'to cost 1.2m'

Police handcuffs
The government said the move was to prevent excessive council tax rises

The cost of sending out revised council tax bills if Surrey Police's budget is capped will be £1.2m for the county, Spelthorne Borough Council has said.

Spelthorne council said the budgeting amount under dispute was £1.6m, and the cost of sending out new bills "did not make sense".

Surrey Police Authority (SPA) is appealing against a government decision to cap its budget for a second year.

The government has said the move is to prevent excessive council tax rises.

A statement issued by Spelthorne council said: "Spelthorne Borough Council does not believe it makes sense to require Surrey Police to spend £1.2 million to send out new council tax bills which will, on average, result in a decrease of just £3.24.

"The total cost of capping and rebilling equates to the funding of nearly 70 police offers and the council believes the money would be best spent on front-line policing."

'Tightening belts'

Surrey Police Authority was allowed to keep its £191.5m budget for 2008/09, but was restricted to £189.6m for 2009/10.

The government said the move was to prevent excessive increases in council tax, which is shared between council, police and fire services.

When Local Government Minister John Healey revealed the level of council tax rises across England, he said: "Most councils across the country are tightening their belts, which is exactly what the public wants to see."

He said the government planned to cap the council tax increases set by two police authorities - Derbyshire and Surrey.

Surrey Police Chief Constable Mark Rowley said it would be hard to avoid front-line cuts if capping was imposed.



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