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Justice Secretary welcomes reform report
“I welcome this very positive report, which supports the general principles of the Bill, and I am pleased that the Committee recognises the balance our legislation seeks to strike between operational independence and democratic accountability.
“I agree with the Committee that the Chief Constable and Chief Fire Officer should be appointed as early as possible – and this Government is working to achieve this. Subject to Parliamentary approval of the relevant primary and secondary legislation, the process for recruiting the Chair of the Boards and the Chief Officers will start in the summer and I expect all to be in place in the autumn, earlier than originally planned.
“Discussions on the VAT status of the new service with HM Treasury are very much ongoing, and we are working to achieve a positive outcome. The Police Service in Northern Ireland is able to recover the VAT it is charged on the supply of goods or services and officials are pursuing with Treasury a similar recovery mechanism for the new Scottish police and fire services.
“This Government has costed our Outline Business Cases for Police and Fire reform responsibly and the figures show that, even with a VAT payment, the single services will together deliver estimated efficiency savings of £1.7 billion over 15 years. Single services offer the greatest opportunity to strip out duplication, therefore protecting frontline services, including the 1,000 additional police officers delivered since 2007.”