Angus Macpherson expressed his frustration over the amount of financial support Wiltshire Police receives from the government.

And the head of finance at the Police and Crime Commissioner's office warned things could be challenging for years to come.

Speaking to members of the Police and Crime Panel made up of Wiltshire and Swindon Borough councillors, Mr McPherson said his force gets one of England's smallest grants from Whitehall.

Of the central grant, which will be £73.9m this year, he said: “We have the fourth lowest grant in the country. This has been bugging me for eight years and I’ve been trying to address it for at least six.”

In 2020-21 Wiltshire received central funding of £97.76 per head of population compared to an England national average of £123.91 per head. Mr Macpherson said this made him more reliant on council tax to pay for policing.

The government has given permission to police forces to raise their share of council tax – the precept – by £15 for a mid-range Band D payer.

This represents a 6.9 per cent increase on the police precept for every council taxpayer in Swindon and Wiltshire. That will see Band D payers’ contribution to the police increase from £216 to £231 for the year.

Mr Macpherson said: “The Wiltshire precept is still low – Gloucestershire next door is £40 higher.”

It is the low level of the council tax levied by Wiltshire which has possibly contributed to the concerns of police director of finance Clive Barker.

Mr Barker said: “Because the council tax was kept low in Wiltshire the increases are not that big. Gloucestershire had a big hike some years back, which means they get more for the same percentage increase.”

He told the committee that the increase in government grant was part of its support for more officers. Having recruited 49 more officers in this financial year, the force needs to get in another 48, two of whom will be seconded to the regional organised crime unit.

Mr Barker said: “The uplift in government funding of £3.38m is dependent on making these recruitments.”

He said the extra money would pay for the new officers’ salaries, but little else and added his budget figures did not include a pay increase for officers in 2021-22. The interest on invested reserves has been cut from an expected £200,000 to £121,000.

Mr Barker added: “The financial positions in subsequent years may be very challenging.”

A proposed increase in the police precept of 6.9 per cent, which would raise £3.8m is out for public consultation, which runs until Tuesday, February 2.

A formal budget and precept proposal will be put to the panel at its meeting two days later.