SURREY Police’s council tax bills could rise by an average of £12 per household so that the force can stem a funding crisis which could see personnel laid off as a last resort.

If the police precept is increased in 2019/20 by the maximum amount allowed without a referendum, the force would still need to find £12.2 million of savings over next four years.

That equates to £12 for a Band D property, and a council tax increase of 5.07 per cent. If the rise in its share of the overall bill has to be kept to 1.99 per cent – as in the past – then the savings needed in that period would be £17.5million.

Surrey Police and Crime Commissioner David Munro said ‘head counts’ would have to be considered as a last resort to make the savings, but remained optimistic the force’s financial situation was not as bad as others around the UK, adding it was a ‘stable force.’

A report presented to Surrey Police and Crime Panel meeting at County Hall, Kingston, last Wednesday, highlighted the two possible financial scenarios based on the precept rise. Both of these possible savings targets are part of the financial plan and would be subject to the impact of inflation, government grants and police pay.

The actual figure is thought to be somewhere between the two and any proposed increase will be released as part of a public consultation in December or January.

Mr Munro, who will ask the panel to vote on his proposed precept in February 2019, told the panel he was also in talks with Sussex, Hampshire and Thames Valley commissioners and chief constables about more collaboration work.

Members of the panel said they were concerned about the saving targets.

David Reeve, a Guildford borough councillor, said: “The savings we have got to find over four years seem far beyond our reach.”

The medium-term financial plan report presented to the panel showed to date only £1.6million of the savings plan of £12.2m had been identified, giving rise to a deficit of £10.6m.

Without the proposed precept increase an additional £15.9m savings would need to be found.