Funding settlement will not undo the damage of austerity years

South Wales Police Federation chair Steve Treharne has highlighted the impact of austerity on the Force as the Government announced this year’s funding settlement.

Steve spoke about the impact on South Wales Police after losing around £111 million in funding since 2010/11 as well as hundreds of officers and staff members.

“Our officers and staff have had to weather an extremely difficult storm with all the extra demands placed upon them and, as a result, officers and staff have been breaking,” he said.

Steve was speaking as the Government revealed its 2022/23 funding settlement. South Wales is set to see its settlement rise by £17.1m to £350.6m.

But Steve says it’s not enough to undo the damage of austerity.

“South Wales Police has lost around £111 million since 2010/2011 due to the funding inequalities that the current formula produces,” he said.

“Significant sums have been redistributed from South Wales to other Welsh forces in this period. Previous Comprehensive Spending Reviews have required the delivery of significant financial ‘efficiencies’ and budget reductions.

“Since austerity started in 2010/2011, South Wales Police has had to deliver £56m of savings.”

Steve added: “During the past decade of austerity, South Wales Police had to reduce officer numbers by 479 and reduced police staff positions by 575.

“The Government’s Police Officer Uplift Programme indicates that by 2023 police officer allocations for South Wales Police will rise by an anticipated 450 and funding made available for the equivalent uplift in police staff by around 150 – which still remains significantly below pre-austerity levels.

“This is despite the increase in demand and complexity of incidents routinely responded to by South Wales Police.

“Our officers and staff have had to try to cope with all the extra demands placed upon them but this has taken a huge toll on them.

“The situation could have been far worse had it not been for the actions of South Wales Police Police and Crime Commissioner Alun Michael who had had to put forward significant precept uplifts over his tenure in office and we are grateful that he made these difficult decisions.

“The capital city of Wales has an additional annual policing cost of £4m which is also not recognised in the existing funding formula,” he added.

Police Federation national vice-chair Ché Donald is leading the calls for reform to the current funding model.

He said: “As the Government announces the 2022/23 funding settlement for policing, the Police Federation of England and Wales continues to call for a more sustainable multi-year settlement, rather than year upon year funding.

“The Government must consider a sustained multi-year funding settlement for policing, which will allow forces to make long-term strategic plans to respond to the changing nature of crime and support communities.

“The ability to plan past the next year will enable forces to achieve better procurement deals and to see overall costs come down.

“Without the ability to search for better deals due to the uncertainty of what is to come year after year, the 2022/23 marginal increase will get lost in the high day to day costs that forces are currently incurring.

“One-year financial settlements do not work and forces shouldn’t have to operate on a ‘hand-to-mouth’ basis.

“Over the last decade, the police service has been hit hard by budget cuts and it needs more than a one-year cash injection to put things right. What is desperately needed is long-term, genuine investment in policing.”