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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/police-funding-special-grant-guidance/special-grant-guidance
Home Office guidance for special grant funding
Police forces should include within their policing and budget plans reasonable contingencies for unexpected events within their areas. It is, however, recognised that there will be unexpected and exceptional events that could threaten the financial stability of one or more police forces. In these cases, police and crime commissioners (PCCs) can apply to the Home Office for special grant funding to meet additional costs that would be incurred from policing unexpected and exceptional events within their areas.
Special grant funding can be used to help alleviate the potential financial burden of these events so that police forces can continue to function normally. The guidance below outlines the process for applying for a special grant.
The Home Office will only consider an application from the relevant PCC. The force is not able to make an application of its own volition.
It is important to note that even if a special grant is provided, forces are expected to meet the additional costs of the event up to 1% of the force’s budget. For example, if 1% of the force’s budget is £2.4 million, and the PCC makes an application for £3.2 million to cover the additional costs incurred, generally, the force will be expected the pay the first, £2.4 million, with a special grant providing the balance (in this example a special grant of £800k would be provided).
The Home Office reserves the right to refuse a special grant application, and there should be no presumption that financial assistance will be available.
There are 2 fundamental questions that will be taken into consideration: do the additional costs equal or exceed 1% of the force’s budget?; would the refusal of financial assistance threaten the PCC’s financial stability and their capacity to deliver effective policing?
If the answer to at least one of these questions is yes then the relevant PCC may apply for a special grant.
The application for a special grant should only include additional costs. In general, these would include those necessary to pay staff overtime, mutual aid and rest day working costs, but may also include vehicle or equipment hire costs. Special grant funding does not cover opportunity costs, for example, the cost of an officer engaged in policing the event as part of their normal duty should not be included in the application because this is an opportunity cost.
In applying for special grant funding the PCC should refer to the special grant criteria document at annex A, which was prepared in conjunction with HMICFRS. The special grant criteria document sets out information that a PCC should include in their application. They should attach all relevant documentation that supports their application in order for their bid to be properly assessed. The Home Office will not refer the application to HMICFRS until the majority of this information has been provided.
HMICFRS will conduct an independent review of the application to assess whether the costs are reasonable and proportionate. This process is likely to involve a visit to the relevant force and could result in additional information being requested in order to fully assess the application. They will then provide the Home Office with a report outlining their conclusions and recommendations. HMICFRS’s terms of reference are included at Annex B.
Home Office officials will provide advice to ministers as they take the final decision. The PCC is then informed in due course of the outcome of their application.
In cases where special grant funding is approved forces will be required to demonstrate their financial governance arrangements, for managing the expenditure, that meet the principles of managing public money1.
If you wish to apply for a special grant or have any special grant related queries please contact the following from the Police Resources Policy Team at the Home Office:
- Kevin Finch 020 7035 3117 firstname.lastname@example.org
- Karenza Catanach 0207 035 1507 email@example.com
Annex A: special grant criteria proposal
By its nature, policing has to deal with unpredictable events and emergencies. The Home Office expect PCCs to make reasonable provision and hold financial reserves to meet these exceptional items or events, especially in light of the strategic policing requirement.
There should be no presumption that financial assistance will be available in addition to general and specific grants. Nevertheless the police will need special grant funding on occasion.
The Home Office will consider requests for special grant funding to help meet costs where necessary, additional expenditure incurred would otherwise create a serious threat to the force’s financial stability and their capacity to deliver normal policing.
The allocation of special grant funding will only be considered for costs that reach 1% of the force’s budget. However, ministers have discretion to waive this requirement2.
A 2-phased approach should be adopted in considering whether a force is eligible for a special grant.
During phase 1 the financial threshold test should be considered. Do the costs amount to 1% of the force’s budget?
If the financial threshold in phase 1 is met, during phase 2 the relevant PCC can make a case for award of special grant funding.
The PCC should provide information about the intelligence upon which a force has based its assessment of threat and risk and thus its gold strategy and subsequent operational deployment.
Information provided to the Home Office should be sufficient for officials to be able understand the rationality of operational planning and the use of resources, with details of additional and necessary costings incurred.
A bid for special grant funding should be only be considered if it is accompanied by significant documentation that evidences the rationale, decision making and necessity for expenditure. The bid should clearly evidence that the resources deployed by the force were both proportionate, reasonable and demonstrate that the force is applying value for money principles.
What the bid should cover
Information and intelligence
This includes, for example:
- local intelligence (local environmental scanning, local community engagement, local Special Branch reporting, relevant individual networks)
- liaison with national inter-agency liaison officer partners
- social media
- other open source intelligence
- intelligence from partners
- strategic intelligence (National Domestic Extremism Intelligence Unit, Home Office, All Sources Hub, National Community Tensions Team)
This includes, for example:
- capability and intent of activists
- local risk assessments including the likelihood of risk and the harm its impact will cause
- operational risks (civil contingencies, event planning and local resilience fora)
- organisational risks (eg need for and capability of joint working with other blue light services)
- community risks (community impact)
The gold strategy includes:
- accountability and any necessary authorities
- human rights
- partnership engagement
- memoranda of understanding
- regional mobilisation/National Police Co-ordination Centre
- mutual aid requirement
- collaborative agreements
- Crown Prosecution Service/court processing arrangements
- command structures
- investigative strategy
- policing style
- equality impact assessment
- best value
- peer review
The silver/bronze strategy includes:
- tactical plan
- planned operational deployment (taking account of the risks including of spontaneous action)
Includes legal underpinning for the operation.
Includes operational order.
- information about governance arrangements including:
- details of the senior responsible officer for financial governance
- information about authority levels for approval of expenditure
- information about challenge processes in respect of costs and expenditure
- documentation that demonstrates financial governance, decision making and challenge
- information about proposed expenditure
This includes debriefing/learning the lessons.
Annex B: HMICFRS terms of reference
To provide advice to the Home Office in respect of the operational deployments for all special grant applications. The advice should focus on whether the resources deployed by the force were both proportionate and reasonable, when considering the risks and threats applicable to the event in question.
- engage with the relevant force to ascertain the risk and threat assessment for the event, and the level of resources deployed at the event
- alert Home Office officials if the resources deployed are, in their professional judgement, disproportionate and/or not commensurate with the threat level for an event of this nature
- consider whether the number of officers deployed was proportionate, and whether the level of specialists (e.g public order trained officers) was operationally necessary, as part of their assessment of the deployment
- review any use of mutual aid by the force, and will provide an assessment as to whether the resources provided under mutual aid were operationally necessary
- provide advice in writing to the Home Office on the special grant request once they have reviewed the information provided by the force