Jez Hemming, local democracy reporter
A Welsh police force is missing out on cash because policing isn’t devolved, it has been claimed.
North Wales Police is receiving less than half of the cash doled out to English forces for training new officers, which was put down to of complex devolution rules that were highlighted in Tuesday’s virtual Police and Crime Panel meeting held over Zoom.
It emerged North Wales Police only receives back about half of the money it pays out for UK Government’s apprenticeship levy, while forces in England are given a grant representing at least 110 per cent of their levies which they can use towards training new officers at the College of Policing.
Police and Crime Panel member, Wrexham councillor Dana Davies, said the Police and Crime Commissioner’s (PCC) office should ask for an “audit trail” of the money the North Wales force is receiving.
The reason for the different funding models is complex, but basically arises because policing in Wales is not a devolved power, meaning North Wales Police has to pay the apprenticship levy to the UK treasury.
However, education and training is a devolved area of government, meaning the UK Treasury has to pay any grant money for training directly to Welsh Government in a lump sum. Cardiff then hands out cash to police forces.
In England, UK Government simply hands the grant money directly to police forces themselves.
It was not immediately clear at the meeting what was causing the funding difference but the PCC’s finance officer, Kate Jackson said Welsh forces paid £2m in apprenticeship levies and were only receiving £1m back in training grants.
North Wales Police pays out £514,000 every year towards the levy, representing 0.5 per cent of its wage bill, which goes into a national training pool from employers.
Ms Jackson said: “The governments of devolved administrations are each getting a lump sum for the apprenticeship levy but it’s up to them how they spend it, to some extent.”
Commissioner Arfon Jones said he had been in discussions about the anomaly with Secretary of State for Wales Simon Hart, who continued to lobby the treasury on behalf of Welsh Forces.
The situation will also be brought up at a meeting of the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) next week, the committe was told.