Fears that Hartlepool council's budget deficit could triple by 2025

Council chiefs have warned they face a "lot of uncertainty" as they look ahead to budget setting and finance plans for the next two years.

By Nic Marko
Wednesday, 22nd June 2022, 3:41 pm

Hartlepool Borough Council officers reported due to issues such as inflation, cost of living increases and the unknown level of Government funding support that they are likely facing a bigger deficit than initially feared.

It was previously estimated for 2023-4 and 2024-25 the local authority would face a combined deficit of £2.973million if annual council tax and adult social precept increases were implemented.

However, a presentation to the finance and policy committee on Monday, June 20, warned this could be set to rise to £4.363million, and possibly higher, subject to Government funding updates.

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Hartlepool Borough Council chiefs have warned they face a "lot of uncertainty" as they plan their financial budgets up to 2025.

James Magog, council assistant finance director, said if they receive freezes in Government grants and do not increase council tax in line with national limits then It could rise to £8.953million.

He said: “There is a lot of uncertainty on costs and funding.

“General inflation, everyone in the room will be aware of inflationary pressures at the moment. Energy inflation, I’m sure everyone is well aware of.

“Council income from fees and charges, they are continuing to come under strain, both recovering from Covid in terms of the slow recovery but also some of the emerging cost of living issues.”

Councillor Shane Moore, the council leader, said they must grasp the seriousness of the financial situation, adding the majority of issues are outside the local authority’s control.

He said: “None of us sat around the table got involved with local politics because we wanted to make budget cuts or we wanted to slash services.

“Until we grasp the seriousness of the situation we cannot do anything else in my opinion.”

Cllr Brenda Harrison, Labour group leader on the council, added they face a “dire situation” and urged the council to continue to lobby the town’s MP and Government ministers over funding issues.

She said: “I think they need to be sick of hearing from Hartlepool Council.

“The council tax system is very unfair so I think we need to keep lobbying to try to get that looked at.”

The committee also agreed to invite MP Jill Mortimer to a future budget meeting.

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