The Ham & High has this week published the below letter in response to Andrew Dismore’s dismal claims on police funding.
Dismore seems not to care that this year’s increase in national police funding is the largest ever. On top of that, the government has allowed local Police & Crime Commissioners (like Sadiq Khan) to raise Council Tax to fund them even more.
Dismore railed against the idea of allowing local authorities to increase taxes to pay for policing by, umm… demanding that the government increases taxes to pay for it instead.
He seems completely unaware that, because London pays far more tax than anywhere else, funding police through national tax instead of local tax would require London to slash police numbers by 6,000. D’oh!
Sorry to see Barnet & Camden’s retiring London Assembly member Andrew Dismore get confused about how taxes and the police work in last week’s Ham & High. Perhaps, as a tax economist, I can explain for him.
The Government has just granted the police nationally £460million: twice the rate of inflation and the biggest annual increase of all time. On top of that, the Mayor of London has been given the ability to raise enough further funds through local tax to hire 1,600 additional police officers. If the Mayor used that power, I would support him.
Yet Dismore demanded indignantly that the latter money come ‘from government’ not ‘from the pockets of hard pressed Londoners’ – but where does he think government gets its money?! That’s right: taxes, which are disproportionately paid by hard-pressed Londoners.
Indeed, the average Londoner pays two-thirds more tax than the average person elsewhere in the UK. As a result, funding all police services from Whitehall – as Dismore demanded – would cost Londoners two-thirds more than funding them through local taxation.
That would mean cutting £295 million from the Metropolitan Police – or firing about 6,000 police officers. So Labour seem to like cheap shots about the need to raise money for policing, but there’s no magic money tree – it has to come from somewhere – and it’s far better for Londoners that it be raised locally.
But Labour’s stance is equally bizarre because it’s shirking responsibility. Every county has an elected Police & Crime Commissioners to allow residents to determine their priorities for the police locally, and justifying how their money is spent locally. London’s Police & Crime Commissioner is the Mayor of London.
Of course, Andrew Dismore knows this, because when he was an MP, he himself voted for policing and police funding to be devolved to the Mayor of London via the Greater London Authority Act 1999!
I think devolving powers over policing to London was the right thing to do, but clearly, Dismore regrets having done so. Given the rise in crime under Sadiq Khan, perhaps I don’t blame him. But if he had his way and national government had to fund everything from national taxation, it would hit Londoners far harder.
For more about my campaign to keep our streets safe, click here.