Ian Austin

Independent for Dudley North

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Austin demands Home Secretary acts over police cuts

Dudley MP Ian Austin has taken the West Midlands’ case for a fairer share of police spending straight to the top – raising it directly with the Home Secretary in Parliament this afternoon.

Austin used today’s session of the Home Affairs Select Committee to raise spending cuts to West Midlands Police that are set to result in the loss of 2,500 police officers.

The way the Government distributes police funding means the West Midlands receives a comparatively smaller share than other forces, despite higher levels of crime. The region has the second lowest council tax precept in the country which means it relies on central government funds more than other forces and a flat-rate national cut hits the West Midlands harder than elsewhere. As a result West Midlands Police is losing almost a quarter of its budget, while Surrey will see its budget fall by 12%.

Government spending cuts and the unfair distribution of funds are forcing West Midlands Police to axe 2,500 more officers in the next four years to save an extra £100 million – on top of the £126 million lost over the last five years.

A cross-party group of West Midlands MPs has written to the Home Secretary asking her to reconsider the national funding formula and ensure the West Midlands gets a fairer deal.

Speaking at a meeting of the Home Affairs Select Committee of which he is a member, Austin asked the Home Secretary Theresa May if she would address concerns about police funding set out in a recent letter signed by West Midlands MPs of all parties.

The Home Secretary acknowledged that the West Midlands faced more severe cuts than other regions and said that the issue of police funding distribution “will need to be looked at”.

Ian Austin said:

“The Home Secretary acknowledges that West Midlands police funding is a problem, but she needs to take this much more seriously.

“We all know savings have to be made, but the government has cut spending too quickly and too deeply, and failing to introduce a fairer funding system is costing the West Midlands millions. Police officers are losing their jobs, police stations have closed and Dudley Police Station is still at risk.

“Local people want more police on the streets, more offenders brought before court and more criminals put in jail, so I’m fighting for the West Midlands to get a fairer share of police funding.”

Ian Austin's exchange with the Home Secretary Theresa May can be viewed here.

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