August 7, 2012 - Bill Esterson's Westminster Diary

Bill Esterson


 

The number of police officers in England has fallen to a nine year low.

Home Office figures have revealed that there were more than 5,000 fewer officers in England and Wales at the end of March than the previous year and fewer than at any point since 2003.

The number of police community support officers (PCSOs) also fell, down 9% to 14,393.

The affects of the government's cuts on the police have been even worse in Merseyside than most areas because of the way the police budget is calculated.

A total of  83% of Merseyside police's budget is direct government grant and 17% comes from council tax. In Conservative Surrey, the police budget depends on around 50% government grant and 50% council tax.

So the Tory-Lib Dem Government's decision to slash Merseyside’s police grant by 20% has a greater impact on areas like Merseyside than the more affluent areas down south.

We've already lost 323 police officers here in Merseyside, but by 2015, we are set to lose 650 police officers, as well as 103 police community support officers and 452 civilian staff as the force has to shed £61.4m from its budget.

Over the last decade, with the support of the last Labour Government, Merseyside Police made great strides in combating crime.

Police Federation representatives have told me that it is inevitable that crime and disorder across Merseyside will rise as a direct result of these cuts.

Officers I have spoken to warn that the cuts are dangerous and will lead to a rise in crime.

This government needs to know the damage it is doing to policing in Merseyside and the result will not just be a rise in crime, but an increase in the fear of crime in our communities.

These cuts are going beyond what is safe. Conservative Home Secretary, Theresa May should think again before slashing the budget even further. She should cut crime not Merseyside Police.

 


The Office for National Statistics says that household disposable income has fallen to the lowest level since the second quarter of 2005.

The figures show the harsh squeeze facing families and pensioners, which the Government’s unfair policies are making worse. While millionaires will soon get a tax cut, millions of people on middle and low incomes are paying more because of the rise in VAT and cuts in tax credits. 

We need a temporary VAT cut now to ease the squeeze and help kick start an economy which the Chancellor has pushed into a deep and deepening recession. And Tory Chancellor, George Osborne should do another u-turn and stop his unfair plan to cut the top rate of tax for the very richest while clobbering millions of pensioners with the so called granny tax.