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The Commission is expected to brief the Council on its latest communication on the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) which is likely to take stock of the progress made on ENP since last years communication, and to make proposals for how to take the policy forward. The Government endorses ENP as a vital framework for supporting our EU neighbours in implementing their political and economic reforms, and as a means of tackling common challenges such as economic integration, energy and climate change, terrorism and extremism, migration, and good governance, to the benefit of all member states.
The Council will discuss the regulation implementing Economic Partnership Agreements in signatory African, Caribbean and Pacific countries (ACPs) from 1 January 2008. The Commission will also present a paper recommending options compatible with the World Trade Organisation for those non-least developed countries who are unable to conclude negotiations by the end of the year. The Government wants duty-free quota-free access for all ACP exports to the EU market and will work to ensure that countries who have showed willingness to engage in the negotiations are not worse off in January 2008.
Discussion of the Western Balkans is expected to focus on Kosovo and will coincide with the end of the period of talks facilitated by the EU-US-Russia Troika. All indications are that Belgrade and Pristina will not have reached agreement on Kosovos status. The Government will be pushing for the EU to take a leading role in charting the way ahead after the talks, acting decisively to ensure that Kosovos status is rapidly resolved so that the whole region can move forward.
The Council is expected to adopt conclusions on enlargement and the Western Balkans. The Government support the EU perspective for the Western Balkansit has driven key reforms and helped the region move forward from the conflicts of the 1990s.
The Council is expected to discuss steps the EU can take to support the agreed twin-track international approach to the Iranian nuclear issue. The High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solana, is expected to brief the Council on his recent meeting with Saeed Jalili, Secretary of the Iranian Supreme National Security Council, on 30 November.
The Council is expected to welcome the progress made at the Annapolis Conference and to discuss the forthcoming Paris donors conference. The Council is also expected to adopt conclusions focusing on the Annapolis Conference and EU action in support, including work to strengthen Palestinian security capacity through expansion of the EU mission to support the Palestinian civilian police, and the Paris donors conference in December. The Government are committed to supporting the shared goal at Annapolis,
to immediately launch good faith bilateral negotiations in order to conclude a peace treaty resolving all outstanding issues, including all core issues without exception, as specified in previous agreements.
The Council is also expected to discuss Lebanon, following the departure of President Lahoud on 23 November. The Government remain concerned about the divisions between the Lebanese Government and the opposition over the election of a successor, which has been a major cause of tension in Lebanon. There now appear to be encouraging signs of progress.
The Council is expected to adopt conclusions urging a swift, peaceful and democratic outcome to the process. The Government welcome the EUs sustained engagement on Lebanon and continues to support French efforts to facilitate a compromise between the Lebanese political parties.
Burma has been added to the agenda at the Governments request in order to maintain EU focus on Burma and to support the work of the UN Special Envoy Ibrahim Gambari and the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Sergio Pinheiro. The Government also want the Council to take stock of the continuing detailed, follow-on work on EU sanctions being undertaken following decisions at the October and November Councils.
The Government want the Council to send a strong statement on Sudan-Darfur and Chad through conclusions reiterating the EUs support for the ongoing UN-African Union (AU) led efforts to achieve a sustainable peace settlement in Darfur. The Government also expect the Council to call on all parties to do all they can to ensure prompt deployment of an effective AU-UN peacekeeping force, UNAMID, which will assume authority from the current AU Mission in Sudan (AMIS) by 31 December 2007, and to call for the early deployment of the planned EU mission to Chad and the Central African Republic.
The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Jacqui Smith): I have today placed in the Library my proposals for allocation of police grant for England and Wales from 2008-09 to 2010-11. I intend to implement the proposals on police grant subject to consideration of any representations and to the approval of the House.
Policing and reducing crime remain top priorities for this Government. The 2006-07 British Crime Survey shows that since peaking in 1995, crime has fallen by 42 per cent. representing over 8 million fewer crimes. The Government have worked very hard to maintain the police grant at a good level for the next three years as well as to provide secure and stable funding across policing, crime and drugs. Police authorities will receive a realistic and affordable increase in grant, backed up by a programme of reform and modernisation and a continuing drive to increase efficiency and productivity and cut bureaucracy. chief constables and police authorities will have maximum flexibility to make the best possible use of resources to maintain the historically high number of police officers and have the right workforce balance they need to deliver local priorities.
I have placed in the Library of the House today copies of the National Community Safety Plan for England 2008-11. The plan supports greater partnership working on community safety at national, regional and local level, and is intended to support practitioners in planning and delivering community safety objectives. The plan also includes our strategic policing priorities and key actions for the police service for 2008-09. The National Community Safety Plan follows on from, and supports, the objectives in the Governments crime strategy, published in July this year Cutting Crime: A New Partnership 2008-11. The crime strategy sets out how we will continue to build on the achievements of the past ten years, refreshing our approach to meet new challenges. The new Make Communities Safer PSA supports the crime strategy and helps to establish a more mature relationship between central Government and local delivery partners for driving improvement priorities.
The settlement builds on considerable investment in the police service over the past decade. On a like for like basis Government grant for the police will have increased by over 60 per cent. or over £3.7 billion between 1997-98 and 2010-11. Our investment in policing, as well as significant extra investment from local taxpayers and the delivery by police forces and authorities of substantial increases in efficiency, has helped to expand local policing successfully, reduce crime and make our communities safer
The police service has responded well to the demands placed on it but we must make sure the service is in the best possible shape to meet them. We are committed to consolidating and building on the significant reforms and achievements to date, to support the police service in meeting these new challenges. In support of these aims, Sir Ronnie Flanagan is currently undertaking an independent review of policing. We also intend to publish a Green Paper in spring 2008 to consult on wider proposals for change.
Excellent progress is being made in the delivery of neighbourhood policing. By April 2008 there will be a neighbourhood policing team in every area and we are ahead of schedule with more than 75 per cent. of England and Wales already covered by neighbourhood policing teams. Some 16,000 police community support officers are now supporting police officers in delivering real changes on the ground, fighting crime and making communities feel safer. Together with CLG, community safety partners and other agencies, the Home Office is working to integrate neighbourhood policing with local neighbourhood management to ensure that we have the greatest number of services working together to tackle the issues identified by our communities.
The Government remain committed to building on the significant progress that have been made to date in increasing efficiency and productivity and reducing unnecessary bureaucracy, to ensure that officers are most effectively focused on their front line duties. We want to empower and equip officers so they can provide the most visible and accessible police presence in the community possible. We intend to support this through a new efficiency and productivity strategy on which we are working with the service. In addition, this will be supported by further improvements to working practices and processes, greater flexibility and streamlining of local performance management requirements and
wider access to innovative crime fighting technology that will be supported by a new £50 million capital fund.
Total provision for policing revenue grants in 2008-09 will be £9,227 million, an overall increase of 2.9 per cent. Provision is also made for 2.9 per cent. in 2009-10 and 2.7 per cent. in 2010-11. I propose to distribute the settlement as set out below.
|Table 1: Police revenue funding settlement 2008-09 to 2010-11 compared with 2007-08|
|*Consultation will take place on how best to use BCU funds to support local delivery of PSA targets and crime strategy.|
Police funding proposals within the local government finance system are being announced by my hon. Friend the Member for Wentworth (John Healey) today. On 5 November, the Welsh Assembly Government announced its proposals for Revenue Support Grant.
Provisional general policing grants (that is, Home Office Police Grant, Revenue Support Grant and National Non Domestic Rates) for English and Welsh police authorities in 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2010-11 are set out at tables 2 to 4.
Within the general grant provision of 2.7 per cent. I have set a funding floor at 2.5 per cent. in each of the CSR years. This means that each police authority in England and Wales is guaranteed an increase of at least this level in each year. This provides for stability while enabling us to move towards fuller implementation of the needs-based funding formula.
The employer pension contribution rate payable by police authorities for police officers will be reduced from 24.6 per cent. of pensionable pay to 24.2 per cent. with effect for three years starting from April 2008. This revaluation does not affect employee contribution rates. We expect that the reduced employer contribution rate will result in a saving to police authorities of approximately £15 million per year.
The settlement recognises the importance of efficiency and productivity increases for police authorities. Compared to 2007-08, police authorities will be expected to deliver 9.3 per cent. cashable increases in efficiency and productivity by the end of 2010-11.
Keeping council tax under control remains a priority for the Government. And my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer made clear in his statement on the comprehensive spending review that the Government expects the average council tax increase in England in 2008-09 to be substantially below 5 per cent. No decisions have been taken on capping principles in 2008-09 but we have made clear that we will not hesitate to use our capping powers as necessary to protect council tax payers from excessive increases.
During the summer we consulted on whether to update the resource base of the formula and whether rule 2 grants (former specific grants now allocated with general grant) and the crime fighting fund (CFF) should continue as separate entities or be incorporated into general grant. I have carefully considered all the representations received in response to the consultation.
I have decided to update the resource base of the formula to reflect better the pressures facing the police. I have also decided, in the interest of stability, not to incorporate rule 2 grants into general grant. Likewise, the CFF will remain in its present, unhypothecated, form to give maximum flexibility to police authorities and chief constables.
I have decided to move funding for the Initial Police Learning and Development Programme (IPLDP) from ring fenced status to a rule 2 grant. It will no longer be ring-fenced and will be distributed on the basis of each forces allocations in the last two years.
In line with previous years I have ensured that Welsh police authorities are treated in line with English police authorities. I have provided additional support of £15.4 million in 2008-09, £15.5 million in 2009-10 and £15.7 million in 2010-11 to ensure that Dyfed-Powys, Gwent and North Wales police authorities receive at least a minimum grant increase of 2.5 per cent. This additional support is also partly funded by reducing police grant to South Wales police authority, so that it too will receive the level of grant it would if it were in England.
The settlement provides for the Metropolitan police authority to receive £197 million in 2008-09 (+£5 million over 2007-08) in formula provision to reflect their unique national and international role as well as the functions that fall to them by virtue of London being a capital city. This has been uprated in line with inflation for each year.
Neighbourhood Policing: To ensure that neighbourhood policing is fully embedded across England and Wales, I have accepted the recommendation made by Sir Ronnie Flanagan to maintain the ring-fence on this funding in 2008-09. A total of £324 million will be made available in 2008-09. Funding will increase by an average of 2.7 per cent. in each of the CSR years.
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