The number of police officers in Lancashire could fall even further despite promises from the Government that funding will not be cut.
Chancellor George Osborne stunned police chiefs when he scrapped widely-expected budget cuts and pledged to ‘protect’ their forces.
But it has since emerged that he expects Lancashire residents to foot the bill – through increases to their council tax.
Home Secretary Theresa May revealed Government funding would fall in real-terms and a 2 per cent precept rise is needed in each of the next four years to plug the gap.
Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw said: “Without an increase there is a very real possibility extra jobs will be lost. I didn’t take on this role to oversee the stripping back of our force.”
The council tax precept currently makes up 25 per cent of the funding Lancashire Police receives.
Following a 1.99 per cent increase announced earlier this year, the police precept is currently £159 a year for a band D property. A letter from the Home Secretary to police chiefs makes it clear the Government expects that figure to rise to £172 by 2019/20.
In it, she reportedly wrote: “Total central Government resource funding to policing, including funding for counter-terrorism, will be reduced by 1.3 per cent in real terms over four years.
“Taking into account the scope that you have to raise local council tax, this means a flat real settlement for policing as a whole.”
Mr Grunshaw added: “The devil is always in the detail and until December 18 we will not know what the impact on our budgets is.
“However it is clear that Government is relying on PCCs raising council tax precept at 2 per cent per year over the life of the parliament to be able to keep funding at current levels too.”
Based on current funding levels, that could see the commissioner forced to raise more than £13m through tax increases over the next four years.
Dave Blacker, a Blackpool and Fylde Neighbourhood Watch executive committee member, said the county could ‘breathe a sigh of relief’ after cuts of 25 to 40 per cent, as were expected, were scrapped.
But he added: “The war isn’t over against the cuts – we need to preserve what we have got.”