SIGNIFICANT cuts to the police force would be required should residents choose not to increase how much they pay for the force’s service - which is already at an all-time high - it has been revealed.

In February this year, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings confirmed that the precept for policing would rise by 6.73 per cent - the government’s maximum permitted amount.

It meant residents in a band D property will pay an extra £15 per year to fund policing.

Inflation, according to the force, applies to police finances the same as it does to individual households with rising fuel and energy costs, as well as staff pay increases.

Home Office figures show £88.1m in funding for South Yorkshire Police will come from council tax bills in 2023/24 - a real-terms rise of £4.41m from the £83.7m paid in 2022/23, and the highest figure since local, comparable records began in 2015/16.

Members of the public are now being asked to indicate how much they are willing to contribute towards the policing element of their council tax bill for the 2024/25 year.

South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings said: “Each year I consult South Yorkshire residents over two matters.

“First, I ask what you think the police priorities should be.

“And second, I ask how much you might be willing to see invested in policing and in services for victims of crime, through the council tax.

“This is the ‘policing precept’.

“It is listed on your council tax bill and accounts for about 26 per cent of the funding needed for policing - with the remaining 74 per cent coming from government grant.

“Funding from the precept and the grant enables me to set a balanced budget for South Yorkshire Police - something required by law.

“In this financial year, April 2023 to March 2024, I used government grant and the precept to increase police numbers.

“They are now back to where they were in 2010, before austerity began, and a little beyond, and you may have noticed some of them in your neighbourhood.

“I would like to see those numbers maintained because we need a well-resourced police force to keep us safe from criminality and antisocial behaviour.”

But Dr Billings admits that he will have to raise the precept if the service is to remain to improve.

A question on the survey, which can be found on the South Yorkshire PCC website and is open for residents to submit their views until January 3, asks ‘If you pay council tax, how much more would you be prepared to pay for policing in the coming year?’.

Locals can provide one of three answers - no increase in precept which would require ‘significant cuts’, an increase of no more than 29p per week which would require the force to find efficiency savings, or ‘an increase in line with inflation’.

Dr Billings added: “Because the national finances remain in such poor shape, we will not see government funding fully meet what we need so it will not be possible to keep numbers steady unless I can raise a little more from the precept - though I will seek to keep the increase as low as possible.

“Even so, I will still be asking the force to make savings in order to balance the books.

“To help me get the balance right, I hope you might be willing to provide a response to the survey.”