POLICE chiefs are considering increasing council tax to plug an £80million funding gap.

Crime commissioner Clive Grunshaw said he was looking into the move as a way of addressing around £20million of savings the force has to find by 2017/18.

Lancashire police was braced for £73.5million of budget cuts, but the total has now risen to up to £80million after government funding was announced last month.

Mr Grunshaw said one way of finding some of the cash would be to raise the police section of council tax by two per cent.

It comes just 12 months after the commissioner increased the amount for 2013/14 by two per cent.

Mr Grunshaw said: “It is no secret we are facing a significant financial challenge and, based on the financial settlement received in December, we now know we need to save up to £20million by 2017/18.

“Income raised through council tax is a vital source of police funding and asking people to pay more is something I need to consider in order to relieve the pressure on frontline policing.”

The average Band D property in Lancashire currently pays £152.92 a year towards policing and the government is offering a grant of around £600,000 if the precept is frozen at that level.

But Mr Grunshaw said if every household had their precept increased by two per cent, equivalent to about 6p a week for a Band D property, an extra £1.2million would be raised.

He said: “In the current financial climate, it is a difficult decision to ask people to pay more.

“But we need to minimise the impact of the cuts which have been imposed on Lancashire Constabulary by the Government if we are to maintain the high levels of performance which the force prides itself on.”

Lancashire Constabulary has already made £60million cuts and, in September, Mr Grunshaw warned the force was in danger of reaching ‘tipping point’.

Overall, the predicted staffing reductions from 2009 to 2017/18 are around 700 police officers and 550 police staff, which includes around 74 police community support officers.

Mr Grunshaw is inviting residents to offer their opinions at consultation events. He said: “I hope residents will take this opportunity to talk to me about the financial challenge the police force is facing, and have their say on how much they believe they should pay.”