More expensive housing needed in Hartlepool to help increase council tax coffers, say councillors
More housing – especially more expensive housing – is needed to help keep services in Hartlepool afloat, a committee has heard.
Councillors stressed the importance of housing growth in Hartlepool to providing funds for the area moving forward, with finance adding they will always be relying on government funding.
Around 70% of homes in Hartlepool are currently in council tax bands A and B, which pay the lowest amount of council tax, compared to a national average of 44%.
Councillors added it is important to build homes in the higher property bands, where homes are more valuable and pay greater council tax, and are more likely to attract people to the town.
Coun Marjorie James said: “The more properties we have paying the relevant rate of council tax, particularly if it’s band D or above, is of great assistance to the income the council earns.
“It reduces the need for government grants in places and it means we are not at the whim of government money.”
Coun Brenda Harrison added there are a lot of ‘misconceptions’ among residents in Hartlepool over its level of council tax.
She said: “The fact is we have a lot of band A properties in the town, and that’s why we’re building more, to get more revenue in through that.”
Recent figures showed housing growth in Hartlepool from 2014/15 is 11.46%, compared to the 9.62% Tees Valley average, which has brought the council an additional £3.31million recurring income.
John Morton, assistant director of finance and customer services at the council, said the housing growth is benefiting the town.
However he told the council audit and governance committee they would always be left relying on government funding to an extent.
He said: “Over the years, the austerity years, the council has lost around 45% of its national funding from central government.
“We’ve lost one in five staff over the last five or six years, that’s what we’ve done to manage our financial affairs as best we can.
“Promoting housing growth, the council has done a lot in that regard because that yields obviously more council tax and new homes bonus.
“It is a good thing we are building more properties and our council tax yield is going up, because it reduces that dependency on central government funding.
“A place like Hartlepool with high levels of deprivation and relatively low population, we are dependent on central government funding, that will never change.
“Our ability to raise tax, through business rates and council tax, it’s increasing, but it will never be at the level, I don’t believe, to fund the services we provide in the town.”