Sussex Police watchdogs have slammed the Government over a cash shortfall that will push up local taxes.

Home Office figures released yesterday suggest funding increases of 3.2 per cent in 2006-07 and 3.7 per cent the following year.

But a spokesman for the Sussex Police Authority said: "This falls well short of inflation and meeting other cost increases essential to maintain current services."

He said funding provided for extra Police Community Support Officers only met 75 per cent of costs, leaving the balance to be funded from "the inadequate increase in core funding".

He said the authority will meet a week tomorrow to consider how efficiency savings and the use of reserves can be used to bridge the gap and deliver a council tax increase of no more than five per cent.

The spokesman said the tax rise would not be more than five per cent. The Home Office suggests police authorities exceeding this increase will be liable to capping.

The Home Office yesterday said police forces would benefit from an increase in Government funding of five per cent in 2006/07 and 4.5 per cent in 2007/08.

Home Office Minister Hazel Blears said: "This continues the unprecedented levels of investment in the fight against crime and represents an extra £982 million for policing over the next two years and a 56 per cent (nearly £4 billion) increase in funding since 2000/01."

It would help maintain record levels of policing, expand the numbers of Community Support Officers and boost neighbourhood policing.