As your PCC I need to ensure Suffolk taxpayers get the very best value for money to provide policing in the county. At the moment I do not believe we get a reasonable share of Government funding and I would like your support to make a case to Government for a fairer settlement.
I would like you to consider my assessment of the issue below and if you agree, send me a note of support that I can forward to the Minister of State for Policing.
Whilst I recognise that fairness should take account of specific factors that will be common across all policing areas, I think the rural nature of our county should be given proper weighting and the challenge of policing individual communities over a large geographic expanse should be considered when levels of funding are agreed.
I hope you agree Suffolk should get a more equitable settlement, which reflects the challenges our county faces. Suffolk is home to one of the largest container ports in Europe, has a coast line of over 60 miles, we have five military establishments including two American airbases and the county is home to a nuclear power station. Suffolk does not have a motorway but the A14 is a major route of national importance – my concern is that the Government does not recognise the significance of these crucial strategic national assets.
If we compare ourselves to one of our closest neighbours, we would receive around £3m more Home Office grant funding every year if it was funded to the same level as Norfolk (using unweighted population as the basis of the calculation). This is just not fair; £3million is a huge disparity between two quite similar counties.
We collaborate with Norfolk Constabulary across many areas of policing and Suffolk has delivered the second highest percentage of savings in England and Wales, in terms of efficiencies and effectiveness through collaboration. We also work with other forces across the region and other public sector partners, and this should be positively recognised in the funding formula.
Suffolk has a reputation of being a very prosperous county, and while we have some very affluent areas, over 83,000 people in the county live in income deprivation at the most minimal standard provided by welfare benefits, that’s over 10% of the population. The recently published ‘Hidden Needs’ research makes pretty sober reading. The first “Hidden Needs” report was written five years ago and sadly deprivation levels have increased right across the county since then. It is almost unbelievable that over 14% of neighbourhoods in Ipswich and 12% in Waveney ranked among the most deprived 10% in England. This is compounded because Suffolk is such a rural county with many areas isolated by poor transport and communication links. Sadly, where there are higher levels of economic and social deprivation, communities suffer from increased levels of crime, anti-social behaviour, addiction and abuse, which provides resourcing challenges for the Constabulary which are not considered in the current formula.
The rural nature of the county should also be considered in the review of the funding formula. Less than 20% of the population of England and Wales live in rural areas, yet in Suffolk almost 40% of Suffolk’s population is rural; apart from Ipswich, every district in Suffolk has a disproportionately high rate of rural residents compared to England and this also results in additional challenges for the Constabulary.
If you agree with this assessment, please show your support by forwarding this email email@example.com by Monday 23rd January . If you have any additional comments to make please add this to your response.
I will use your responses as evidence to lobby the Minister for a fairer deal for Suffolk.