COUNCIL taxpayers in the Dyfed-Powys area will pay more for their police service after a 10.7% hike in the precept was approved.

The proposal put forward by the force’s commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn was debated by members of the police and crime panel, who concluded that the public received value for money from the precept.

Nine members of the panel voted in favour of the 10.7% rise, and one against.

Mr Llywelyn said police and crime commissioners were the “fall guys” who had to rustle up a greater share of funding from local taxpayers to offset Home Office cuts.

Under questioning from the panel about the size of the precept rise, he said Dyfed-Powys Police could “cut its cloth” but requested that the panel did not criticise it further down the line when the consequences of such action became apparent.

The rise will mean households in a Band D property paying £248.56 towards policing in 2019/20, compared to £224.56 currently.

Panel chairman, councillor Alun Lloyd Jones. said he sympathised with the commissioner, who must fund pension and pay increases for staff and protect the force’s diminishing reserves.

Cllr Jones said it was his view that nobody wanted to have an increase, but that if the precept went up people would want to be certain they got value for money.

He added: “If I can’t see my way clear to have a continued, good service and peace of mind for less than the price of a cup of coffee per month, there is something wrong with me.”

Lay panel member Professor Ian Roffe described the 10.7% proposal as “very large”, and that it would fall on a relatively small number of council taxpayers whose own finances did not rise accordingly.

And councillor David Evans said he felt it was excessive.

Addressing the commissioner, Cllr Evans said: “In your report last year you indicated the precept for this year will be 5% — now you are actually asking us for more than twice that amount.”

Lay panel member Helen Thomas asked what the impact would be if the precept rise was set at 8%.

Mr Llywelyn said such a move would mean a reduction in police officers.

Freezing recruitment of new staff, he said, including police community support officers would save more than £1 million.

Mr Llywelyn said: “I would question for you as a panel what would be palatable for the communities you serve as well as I serve.”

The approved precept will raise £55.24 million, just over half the force’s total budget of £106.89 million for 2019/20.

The remainder is coming from the Home Office — a figure Mr Llywelyn said had dropped by 22% since 2010.

Although the proportion of the overall budget that council taxpayers contribute in Dyfed-Powys is high, the actual sum they contribute is the lowest of Wales’ four forces.

Dyfed-Powys Police has just under 1,200 police officers, 145 PCSOs and more than 600 other staff.

The panel felt the force delivered a good service to the public, although there was room for improvement.

It hoped police finances would improve as a result of a Government spending review this autumn and a revised police funding formula in 2020.

Councillor Ken Howell said: “I know 10.7% is a huge increase. It’s a choice, and you get what you pay for.”