Giving police officers a long-awaited pay rise could force West Midlands Police to make some of them redundant - unless the Government also supplies extra funding.
David Jamieson, the West Midland Police and Crime Commissioner, issued the warning following reports that the Government is set to end the pay cap for police and prison officers, giving them a significant pay rise for the first time since 2010.
He welcomed the prospect of a pay rise but said police forces simply didn’t have the money to pay higher wages.
Mr Jamieson said: “If the government do not put aside money to fund the pay increase, Police and Crime Commissioners will be left with large bills and have no other option other than to reduce officer and staff numbers.”
Pay for many public sector workers was frozen for two years in 2010, and annual increases were then limited to just 1% a year. The current rate of inflation is 2.6%.
Ministers are now expected to accept recommendations from pay review bodies that pay should be increased above the 1% level.
But it is unclear whether central government will provide extra funding to meet the increased wage bill, or whether forces will be expected to find the money from existing budgets.
Every 1% pay increase above the 1% cap would cost West Midlands Police £4m, or the equivalent of 80 police officers. The force is the largest in the country outside of London.
Mr Jamieson, a Labour politician who was elected to his post, said: “I welcome reports that the government will be lifting the public sector pay cap. It is an long overdue victory for common sense and decency.
“The government must ensure that staff, as well as officers, receive the pay increase. In addition, the government must provide resources for Police and Crime Commissioners to fund the pay increases, so pay increases for some are not job losses for others.
“If the government do not put aside money to fund the pay increase, Police and Crime Commissioners will be left with large bills and have no other option other than to reduce officer and staff numbers.
“The government must act quickly to ensure that its pay cap lifting is not a hollow gesture.
“Police officers and staff work round the clock to keep us safe and their income has been under attack for too long. It would be a kick in the teeth if after this victory the government doesn’t put funding in place and job losses are inadvertently caused.
“This pay increase is right and fair, but needs to be fully funded by the government too.
“The government must make good on their obligations and fully fund this. If not then their cuts will, once again, inevitably lead to job losses.”
The pay review body recommendations for police and prison officers for 2017/18 are still to be published and are awaiting a Government response, which Theresa May has said will happen “shortly”.
A move to lift the cap will come after weeks of pressure on the Prime Minister and Chancellor Philip Hammond to give public sector workers a pay rise from Labour, unions and some Tories.
A Downing Street source has described reports that the cap will be lifted as “speculation”.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies has said if public sector pay were to rise in line with inflation for the next three or four years it would cost the public purse £6 billion to £7 billion more than continuing with the cap.