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Ealing and Northfield

Questions: Two more coppers, another hidden cut

I have taken Labour to task for slashing the borough’s policing spend by one third at a time when public safety is the main worry for residents, see here and here. Labour are reducing the police numbers funded by the borough from 43 to 19 and the amount spent from £1 million to £660K, a 34% cut.

This week I discover that they have eliminated another two police posts on the quiet.

At the end of March I wanted to write about the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) and Labour’s prized £5 million saving over four years, see here. As I dug around the depths of the relevant cabinet paper trying to work out what Labour was doing I found this intriguing reference to policing on page 17:

Non staffing savings: consultants fees, audit fee, Company secretary, surveys, inspection fees, absence management, Giro charges, the Police patrol service, contingencies.

Most of this £759K per annum saving sounded like things you might want to save money on, but policing? No. I therefore asked a written question at the next council meeting, which took place last Tuesday, and the answer was published earlier this week.

Question 39:

What was the value of the Police patrol service included in the HRA account but cut in this budget? What did the service involve and how will it be replaced?

Answer 39:

The Cost of the two full time equivalent police officers posts was £70,000 pa, which was paid from the delegated Ealing Homes budget. The budget was part of the £2m savings identified in the HRA this year. This level of savings was necessary to ensure a balanced HRA and in view of the rent increase being below the Government’s guideline of 6%.

Aspects of the service involved assisting with tenant home visits and evictions, responding to crime enquiries. The work that was carried out by the HRA funded police officers will be carried out by police/council officers that form part of the police partnership model as detailed in the report agreed at Cabinet on 22nd March.

So translating this into plain English, the borough has lost another two police posts that were funded by the HRA at a time when public safety is residents’ chief concern. It also looks like some housing responsibilities have been moved off the HRA (paid for by council tenants’ rents) on to the general fund (paid for ultimately by council tax payers).