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Speech:
Government pension bill could cut a further 220 Police Officers from the streets of Northumbria
22 Oct | 15:30

Northumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Dame Vera Baird QC, is demanding the government put on hold the ‘impossible’ pension changes they are demanding which could cost the force over £11 million in the next two years - the equivalent to almost 220 officers.

Dame Vera said: "The government intends to raise employer pension contributions by 39% for policing, placing an extra 9.7% on the salary cost of every officer in Northumbria Police."

Northumbria Police would need to make savings of £4.3 million in the first year and find an additional £6.7 million the year after, in addition to whatever other cuts or burdens the Home Office makes to policing.

Dame Vera continued: “This is an impossible amount of money that the government is asking for - with no notification. Simply put, if we get this bill, we will have nothing in reserves. It would be a mortal wound to Northumbria Police. We have discussed whether there are any economies that we can plan in order to prepare for this extra unnecessary cost and we simply cannot pay it. Police numbers and capacity are down to rock bottom through the last five years of swingeing budget cuts. This must be paid for by the Home Office or stopped.

“The last revaluation of the scheme recommended a cut to force pension payments but the Home Office declined to pass it on and we were forced to pay at the same rate. That kind of attitude makes us worried that they will play fast and loose with our overheads yet again.”

Dame Vera added: “It’s no good the Home Office saying they are working with police forces to understand the impact - let me be absolutely clear to the Home Secretary, you cannot just chuck this bill at us and not appreciate the problems it will cause.”

The pension bill also affects the NHS, the armed forces and schools. It is believed that the Treasury have agreed to fund the cost for schools until 2020, Dame Vera Baird believes the same agreement should be in place for all those affected by this change, as this will give the government time to understand how they can pay this bill going forward, without police numbers being cut or moving the burden on to hard working families through the police precept element of the council tax.

Police and Crime Commissioners from across England and Wales are taking this issue as seriously as Dame Vera Baird. The Chair of the APCC has written to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury on behalf of all PCCs, urging her to rethink the plans. Dame Vera has followed this up with a letter to the Home Secretary. Dame Vera finished: “As Home Secretary he is aware of the problems this pension issue will cause. I’ve written to him to show real leadership and ensure that hundreds more officers do not have to be removed from the beat by him personally sorting this problem.”

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