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Monday, 24 November 2014

Labour find £250m cuts to 'protect frontline policing'

The Labour party have this evening set out how, they claim, they it will make nearly £250 million of savings in the Home Office in order to better protect frontline policing. In the first interim report from the Zero-Based Review (ZBR), Chris Leslie, Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, and Yvette Cooper, Shadow Home Secretary, outline how Labour will:
  • Make savings of at least £172 million a year by reforming police procurement through mandatory joint purchasing of equipment by police forces.
  • Scrap elected Police and Crime Commissioners - saving £50 million next year - in order to save the 1,100 police officers set to be axed according to Home Office plans for 2015/16.
  • Implement full-cost recovery for gun licensing, raising £17.2 million a year, and levy increased fees for police driver offender retraining, raising £9 million a year.

Publication of the ZBR policing report comes one year after the conclusion of the Independent Police Commission, carried out for Labour and led by Lord Stevens, on how to deliver more with fewer resources. Today Chris Leslie and Yvette Cooper provide more details on how to cut waste from Home Office and policing structures, including how savings could be found through better purchasing and management of the procurement chain. The ZBR policing report has highlighted several instances of poor management in Home Office police spending. This includes deep disparities in the cost of equipment purchased by individual forces - for example the price paid for high-visibility jackets varying fivefold between £20 and up to £100.

Labour say they have also identified initial savings of £172 million a year through polices forces’ joint purchasing. Analysis of data produced by the National Audit Office shows it is possible to make procurement savings of 20 per cent across the Parliament, with the scope to increase the cash sum from the first year total of £172 million. Provisional estimates suggest our procurement plan could see savings increase to between £301 million and £430 million by 2017.

Labour say they will therefore introduce mandatory national procurement and use these additional savings to support police force budgets from 2015/16 onwards and minimise the loss of officers from the frontline in future years. We will also draw further savings from increasing collaboration between forces and bearing down on overtime in forces where performance is worse than that of the majority.

Commenting the Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Chris Leslie, said: "David Cameron and George Osborne are set to break their promise to balance the books by next year. The next Labour government will finish the job of balancing the books but we will do so in a fairer way by making different choices from the Tories. Labour’s Zero-Based Review has identified almost a quarter of a billion pounds of savings which we will make in the Home Office budget. With departmental spending set to be reduced in the next Parliament, these savings will help us to better protect frontline policing compared to Tory plans."

Shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper commented: "Under the Tories’ policies and spending plans, another 1,100 police officers are due to be cut next year alone, with the police warning that many more officers and vital public duties are at risk. This first stage of Labour’s Zero-Based Review of the Home Office shows how Labour plans can make savings to help get the deficit down and prevent 1,100 officers being cut next year. The police are already struggling to cope with growing crimes such as violent crime, child sex exploitation, online child abuse and online fraud, and prosecutions are falling as they can’t get cases to trial."

Continuing Ms Cooper said: "That’s what makes this Zero-Based Review so important. When money is tight, we need to get the best out of every pound, challenge waste and find new savings. We are determined to find ways to protect the vital frontline work our police do, whilst making the savings we need to help get the deficit down. Policing needs to reform, as Lord Stevens independent review set out last year. But Theresa May is completely failing to work with the police to get basic savings on things like procurement. Instead she is fragmenting the police, making it harder to get efficiency savings in place, and wasting tens of millions on elections for Police and Crime Commissioners that no one wants. It is bad management, bad policy, and our communities can’t afford five more years of this."

"Labour will do things differently - abolishing Police and Crime Commissioners and requiring forces to work together to make the savings they need, so they can keep protecting communities too." Yvette Cooper added.

Labour say their Zero-Based Review of public spending is a root and branch review of every pound the government spends from the bottom up.  The ZBR was launched by Ed Miliband and Ed Balls last year and today marks the publication of its first interim report. The final phase of the ZBR will be completed in Labour’s first year in office.