Lisa Townsend Surrey Police commissioner

Surrey Police funding: not a fair cop


The “outdated” underfunding of Surrey’s police is “unfair” to residents  according to the May 2021 elected Conservative Surrey Police and Crime Commissioner Lisa Townsend

The Government announced its funding for police forces in England and Wales in December saying they would receive £18.4 billion – up  £922 million on the previous year. But the way that money is divided has meant some areas received significantly larger shares than others, prompting Surrey Police and Crime Commissioner Lisa Townsend to write to the Government.

Surrey’s funding will be £308.7m in 2024/25, an increase of up to £17.3m when compared to 2023/24. Her letter, to the minister of state for crime, policing, and fire, Chris Philp, was seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service. It read: “Whilst being thankful for the additional resources that have been made available to policing, I am concerned about the way these have been allocated. 

“Once again rather than being allocated in proportion to costs incurred i.e., for pay linked to headcount or payroll costs, these grants have been allocated using the outdated formula grant model. This is a particular issue for Surrey where only 45 per cent of our total budget is covered by grant compared with over 80 per cent  in Northumbria. This means that Northumbria gets 77 per cent  more of the additional pay grant for the same level of cost compared to Surrey.

“I did write to you about this when the pay grant was originally announced, and you assured me that the allocation method would be changed but so far this has not happened.”

In Autumn 2021, the Government announced it was to review how funding was distributed. It has since been engaging with the police sector to determine policing demand and the impact of local factors on forces. Two and a half years later that work remains ongoing with the Government saying the existing model remains the fairest way to allocate core funding to  maintain officer numbers and avoid financial uncertainty.

A Home Office spokesperson said:  “Our priority is to deliver a robust formula that allocates funding in a fair and transparent manner, ensuring that police have the resources they need. So far, a total police funding settlement of up to £18.4 billion in 2024-25 has been proposed and Surrey Police is receiving up to £308.7m. “We have engaged closely with the policing sector on an evidence-based assessment of policing demand, and the impact of local factors on forces. This work remains ongoing.”

Lisa Townsend said: “In December last year, I wrote to the policing minister in response to the settlement for policing which included the recent pay award for officers funded by the government. Our policing teams go above and beyond on a daily basis to keep our communities in Surrey safe and this pay award was richly deserved. I believe it will help in Surrey Police’s efforts in a tough employment market to recruit and retain police officers against a background of rising costs and better paid jobs in the local area.

“However, in my letter I did raise concerns about how these additional resources have been allocated using the current funding formula. This model is outdated and remains unfair to the residents of Surrey. We receive proportionately the lowest level of formula grant in the country meaning we will receive a smaller grant to cover the pay costs compared to other forces.

“Throughout my term as Police and Crime Commissioner, I have been committed to fighting for fair police funding on behalf of our residents and I will continue to lobby government for a change in the current formula.”

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