DYFED-POWYS Police will spend £119.8 million on day-to-day costs in 2021-22, more than half of which will come from council taxpayers in the area.
This is nearly £6 million more than the current financial year and comprises a central Government grant of £59.9 million – 5.2% more than this year – and £62.3 million from the council tax precept, which is a 5.76% hike.
It means band D householders in Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire, Powys and Ceredigion will contribute £275.56p to policing in their area.
It comes as the budget was set by the Dyfed Powys Police and Crime Panel, who listened to police commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn make his case for the precept rise and then voted in favour of it, with only one abstention.
“Ideally I would like to see central funding being a bigger proportion of this investment,” said Mr Llywelyn.
He also said he had considered a public consultation on the proposed precept rise, in which 64% of respondents said they would be willing to pay an extra £1.50 or £2 each month.
Dyfed-Powys Police aims to make savings of £1.59 million in 2021-22 – and Mr Llywelyn called for a share of any central Government under-spends during 2020-21.
Panel member Cllr Keith Evans said a finance group he was part of had balanced the impact of the proposed precept rise – particularly in light of the difficulties faced by many people during the coronavirus pandemic – against the commissioner’s funding request.
The group had recommended the 5.76% rise should be approved.
The force is also set to spend £14.9 million on capital schemes – almost double the current year – which will require borrowing and a further draw on reserves.
Cllr Evans branded an £85,000 capital grant from the UK Government “a paltry sum” compared to this year’s grant of £325,000.
Cllr John Prosser – the sole abstainer – said “a huge number of residents” had lost their jobs or been furloughed during the Covid crisis.
“This is a once in a lifetime event,” he said. “I’m not quite sure that I can honestly sit here and say this is the time we should do this.”
Cllr Prosser said many more “just about managing” households, who weren’t on benefits or council tax relief, were visiting the food bank in Llanelli where he is a trustee.
He asked the commissioner if capital schemes could be suspended or put back a year to save money.
Mr Llywelyn said delaying such projects would add to construction and associated costs, and pointed out that Cllr Prosser’s home town would be benefiting from a new policing hub costing £15 million to £20 million.
“The Llanelli one has been on the cards for the best part of 15 years,” he said.
Dyfed-Powys Police currently has 1,165 police officers, 143 community support officers, and 674 support staff. An additional 42 police officers are to be recruited in 2021-22.
The report before the panel said recorded crimes fell considerably last March when Wales went into lockdown, but then returned to pre-pandemic levels.
One area of huge growth has been fraud and cybercrime, with around 3,500 reports in the first nine months of 2020-21 compared to 2,000 in the whole of the preceding year.
Meanwhile, the force has dealt with 37 homicides since 2014.
The report said the force area was still considered to be among the safest places to live in England and Wales, and 64% of those who responded to a survey felt Dyfed-Powys Police was doing a good or excellent job.
UK Government inspectors judged the force as “good” in one key area and “requires improvement” in two others during a 2018 inspection. The next inspection is due to take place shortly.