Police Minister Mike Penning today admitted fundamental error in calculating funding for police forces means that the discredited police funding review is now suspended.
Penning described his appearance in the Commons in which he had to answer to MPs from both parties on the shambolic funding review as an "embarrassing situation".
Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee Keith Vaz says "to call this a shambles would be charitable"
Shadow Police Minister, Jack Dromey MP, responded from Labour’s frontbench and said:
“This omnishambles would be laughable if it was not so serious.
“The Police Minister has finally apologised for his Department’s error in police funding after being dragged to the Commons.
“Penning has not only been criticised by the Opposition and Members of his own Party for his Department’s blunder, but was also criticised by the Speaker for resisting Parliamentary scrutiny of his shambolic review.
“The Home Office may have now suspended the consultation, but there is no confidence in them at all to get it right next time. We are now only a few months away from the start of perhaps the most challenging financial year in the history of the Police and, due to Ministerial incompetence, police forces have no idea whatsoever what their funding will be and are unable to make to plan for it.
“There are still many questions to be answered by the Government. When was Penning made aware of this error and, if one of his most senior civil servants announced the mistake to police on Thursday, why did Penning say he only found out about the error on Friday?
“Crucially, we now need a process conducted by an independent body that can take proper account of the vital work that the police do.”
Notes to editors
The Home Office admitted on Friday 6thNovember, on the final day of their twice extended consultation, that the proposed new funding formula for police forces in England and Wales was based on flawed calculations. The announcement comes in the context of a consultation process that has already been the subject of two potential legal challenges by Police and Crime Commissioners.
The error in the funding formula was based on data from a private company, which meant that forces had to pay to access it and to discover the mistake - http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/police-chiefs-spend-thousands-investigating-budget-cuts-a6721586.html
The error means that funding to certain forces (West Midlands, South Yorkshire) was calculated as being £28 million more than it should have been. The funding to be awarded to the Metropolitan Police Force was miscalculated by £180 million. The mistake also means that forces made financial plans for the next financial year (2016/2017) based on incorrect iterations. In addition, it is currently unknown what the overall funding envelope for police will be in the 2016/2017 year. This means that police forces are presently totally unable to make any financial plans for the coming financial year.
The mistake was declared in a letter to the Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall on Friday 6th November, the same day that the extended consultation finished on Friday 6th November. The letter, dated 5th November from Mary Calam, Director General, Crime and Policing, Home Office, said -
“Your questions 8 and 9 concern the ACORN 5 measure from CACI Limited, included as one of the two socio-economic indicators in the proposed model. Again, I am grateful for you bringing this issue to our attention and, after further investigation, I should confirm that the data used in calculating the indicative shares with the Minister’s letter was, in fact, the older ‘ Hard Pressed’ classification of CACI Limited’s ACORN 5 measure. As we have set out, CACI have now adopted an updated, and closely correlated ‘Urban Adversity’ classification and I would like to again confirm that it is this updated measure that we propose to use in determining final allocations.”