MORE than 77% of Merseyside residents have voted for a tax hike to protect police officer numbers - but only 2,217 responded.

The increase, unanimously approved by the Police Crime Panel, will generate an extra £4.35m and protect 87 police officer posts after more than three quarters of residents indicated their willingness to pay extra cash.

While approving the plans, the Panel lashed out at the Government for putting a 'disproportionate burden' on local taxpayers.

The hike would equate to 15p a week or £8 a year for a Band A household.

This would increase the police element of tax payers’ bills from £110.65 to £118.65 a year.

For a Band D property, it equates to £1 a month.

This budget plan from Police Crime Commissioner Jane Kennedy (pictured above) follows the disappointing announcement that the police would not receive any new money from the Home Office.

A further £800,000 from police reserves will be used and £7m of cuts, which have already been identified, are still needed to balance the budget.

Ms Kennedy said: “In a climate where everyone’s budgets are tight, asking local people to pay more in their council tax for their police service is something I do reluctantly.

“However, I was left with very little choice.

"The Government has made its position very clear; any additional funding to meet the unprecedented challenges facing the police service will not come from the centre, but must be asked of local people.

“If I had not made this rise, Merseyside Police would be left struggling to meet the rising demands around tackling serious and organised crime, safeguarding vulnerable children and adults, violent crime and maintaining neighbourhood policing.

“I am once again grateful to local people who have shown their overwhelming support for their police service.

"More than 2,200 responded to my consultation and more than 77% gave their support for this increase.

"It is clear local people are willing to play their part in protecting our police service to keep their communities safe.

"The Police and Crime Panel have also recognised the necessity of this increase and I’m grateful for their support.

“I only wish this Government had the same sense of responsibility.”

The Police and Crime Panel also voiced their concern at the approach taken by the government which had effectively tied the Commissioner’s hands.

Earlier this week the Commissioner wrote to MPs across the region highlighting the impact of cuts on Merseyside Police.

Wirral West MP Margaret Greenwood and West Derby MP Stephen Twigg both raised concerns in a debate on the police grant on Wednesday, February 7 but the cash settlement was still passed in a vote by MPs.

The plans will come into place from April 1, 2018.