Hopes of another council tax freeze for Hartlepool residents begin to fade
Hopes of a second successive council tax freeze for residents are fading.
Tax payers in Hartlepool are therefore facing annual increases of 1.9% for the next three financial years from 2022-23 through to 2024-25.
Without additional government funding, Hartlepool Borough Council’s leader says “there are no other easy options”.
The council’s finance and policy committee will be asked on Monday, September 13, to take the first step towards developing a multi-year plan by agreeing to support annual council tax increases in line with national referendum limits.
The authority says the alternative would be to make cuts to services as it currently faces a total deficit of £11.435 million for the years 2022-23 to 2024-25.
The committee report says: “The current 2021-22 budget was set on the basis of freezing council tax and the significant use of one-off resources.
"However, it was recognised that this is not sustainable and deferred a significant budget deficit to 2022-23.
"Our reserves are low in comparison to other councils and only a limited amount is available to support the budget.”
A 3% tax increase specially for adult social care is also being recommended next year after being deferred this year.
The authority says the tax increases will generate vital recurring income and reduce the overall deficit to £7.523 million.
Councillors recently wrote to the Government asking it to carry out a full council tax valuation, saying the current system uses property values that are now 30-years-old.
Independent council leader Cllr Shane Moore said: “We also asked the Government to provide additional funding to enable council tax to be frozen and to implement the Fair Funding Review, which would provide a fairer basis for allocating grant funding to councils.
“I appreciate these issue will not be addressed until the Government completes the Spending Review later in the year but I have concerns significant national changes will not be made.
"Therefore, it needs to be recognised that, in the absence of additional government funding, there are no other easy options and the Government will expect us to increase council tax in line with national referendum limits.”