Harlow Council set to freeze its share of council tax (but rents to rise by 7%)

News / Thu 9th Feb 2023 at 08:17am

HARLOW Council is set to freeze its share of the Council Tax bill as it unveils its budget plans for the year ahead.

Around £15 of every £100 collected in Council Tax in the town pays directly for Harlow Council services with the rest paying for services provided by Essex County Council, Essex Police and Essex Fire & Rescue Service. 

The council says its budget proposals published today (8 February 2022) will protect popular and essential services and invest millions to regenerate the town, repair existing council homes, build new council homes, and restore pride in the town. 

The proposals for 2023 to 2024 include: 

  • Freezing Harlow Council’s share of Council Tax. This means a typical band C household will continue to pay just £4.93 per week for the range of services Harlow Council provides.
  • A further planned Council Tax freeze in 2024 to 2025.
  • A below inflation 7% housing rent increase in line with government guidelines. This means the average weekly rent for council tenants increases by £6.82 per week to £104.18. 
  • A £102 million, 5-year housing repairs programme to improve existing council homes with priority given to roofing repairs, damp and mould works, fire safety and energy efficiency works. In 2023 to 2024, £25.5m is set to be spent on works. 
  • More money to deliver the council’s housebuilding programme with £38.8 million to build new homes for Harlow families.
  • A £79 million, 5-year programme to improve council-owned facilities across the town with £13.5m set to be spent in 2023 to 2024. Includes funding secured from government’s Towns Fund and Levelling Up Fund.
  • No cuts and more funding for popular family services such as Pets’ Corner, Harlow Playhouse, Harlow Museum, the Leah Manning Centre, Sam’s Place, Town Park, paddling pools and splash parks.
  • No cuts and more funding for essential day-to-day services like bin collections, street cleaning, landscape and parks maintenance, housing repairs and supported housing.
  • Funding to continue keeping Harlow streetlights on all night as part of an agreement with Essex County Council.
  • Freezing car parking charges in council-owned car parks.
  • No increase in councillor allowances.

The proposals will be discussed by Cabinet on 16 February 2023 and debated at the Full Council meeting on 23 February 2023. 

Councillor Russell Perrin, Leader of the Council, said:

Unprecedented financial challenges 

“Despite this being one of the most challenging council budgets ever, we will once again honour our commitment to keep Council Tax down for local families and protect much-loved and essential services.

“Rising inflation, increasing energy costs, and reducing income are impacting councils just like they are households. However, we are better placed than many other councils to meet the financial challenges and to support local people and our services during the cost of living crisis.

Your money, your priorities

“Our budget will continue to invest your money into your priorities.

“There will be money for building much-needed council homes for local families, money for improving existing council houses and flats, money to improve council facilities and money to restore pride in our town with landscaping improvements.” 

No cuts to popular and essential day to day services

“Our proposed Council Tax freeze does not mean cuts to popular and essential council services like Pets Corner, Harlow Playhouse, the museum, or the Leah Manning Centre. In fact, we will be spending more money on these services and there will be continued investments that will regenerate and improve our town.

Repairing council houses 

“There will be over £25m this year to improve the standard of council homes. I know many of our tenants have concerns about damp and mould, roofing and the energy efficiency of their homes. That’s why, along with fire safety, we will be prioritising these issues which will be funded through the income we receive from rent.

“Our proposed rent increase is below inflation and below the rising costs the council faces as a result of inflation and increasing energy costs. The rent increase means that the average rent for a council home in Harlow will be just over £104 a week, which is still considerably less that renting a private property.”

Councillor James Leppard, Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Finance, said:

A Council Tax freeze from Harlow Council

“Our Council Tax freeze will buck the national trend. Councils and public bodies up and down the country will increase their share of Council Tax bills this year. We will freeze our part of the bill this year and we plan to freeze it again next year.

“We can’t control what the overall Council Tax bill will be, but we can control how much residents pay in their bill for our services. This year residents will not pay a single penny more for Harlow Council services.

Council Tax support for those in need

“Some 6,700 households on low income or who claim benefits receive support with their Council Tax, and we will continue to support families and households struggling with the cost of living. For the 10th year running our Council Tax Support Scheme will remain unchanged and fund over three quarters of the overall Council Tax bill for those eligible for support.”

A copy of the budget reports can be read at https://moderngov.harlow.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?MId=1488&x=1

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10 Comments for Harlow Council set to freeze its share of council tax (but rents to rise by 7%):

Bruce Downey
2023-02-09 09:05:40

All well and good as in council tax. Rent increase!! Is a bummer.

Kim Oconnor
2023-02-09 10:41:11

No change for years, freeze one thing, something else goes up. We will see if you build more council property s, and we will see if people are allowed to buy them, we need a system that theses council houses have no right to buy, for future generations. And we will see if this money goes on repair s. I wouldn't hold me breath, more like paying your debts of..

gary roberts
2023-02-09 13:43:38

"we need a system that theses council houses have no right to buy, for future generations." Ms. O'Connor the principle of the right to buy council homes has been abolished in Scotland and in Wales and should be in England. Hopefully, that will change and would have done so in 2017 under a Labour party manifesto commitment. Will this current Labour party commit to it if elected? Sadly I suspect not. At a local "defend council housing" meeting many years ago a Conservative councillor stated that you should only be allowed to buy council houses in Harlow if you were born in them. I nearly fell off my chair. If that policy was activated today by the Conservative party no council housing would be sold. Problem solved! As for council rent increases I suspect the raising of benefit levels in April 2023 will hopefully cover this increase. If not destitution will be rife and growing again.

James Leppard
2023-02-09 14:59:02

Gary Roberts, it was interesting to hear Keir Starmer during his recent interview with YH when visiting PAH when he stressed that he shared the aspiration for people to be able to buy and own their own home wherever they chose. Therefore, I tend to agree that any future Labour Government, under his leadership, is unlikely to change the Right to Buy.

Richard A
2023-02-09 15:13:35

Have they been looking at the Trussonomics text book again? If you look in the report inflationary pressures are going to be dealt with by departments absorbing the costs but they don't say how. This means less staff doing more, or cuts in services or both, even though they say they are not. They say no increase in rates but there no mention. of the increase in fees they will be implementing eg bulky waste collections from £28.00 to £30 per collection ( that's plus 7%), or the green waste collection scheme £42.00 to £48.00 (that's plus 12%). Let's hope the opposition parties give this a thorough inquisition at the committee meeting and full council.

gary roberts
2023-02-09 15:55:27

Cllr. Leppard are you agreeing with me? I think I have just fallen off that same chair again. What about the rest of the comment would you agree with that? Further what are you doing to get a well-being hub in Potter Street which is on your manor? Is it in the budget? What about the return of locally based council services to Potter Street is that in the budget? Moreover, will the current administration actually pass the budget given the recent resignations, sackings or absent without leave Conservative councillors? So many questions: Any answers?

2023-02-09 16:11:31

Gary Roberts, I like many others live in a council house and do not claim any benefits. You like many other people assume that all council house tenants live on benefits.

gary roberts
2023-02-09 16:40:17

Doris, I assume nothing of the sort. Indeed in my area alone I know many council tenants who do not claim benefits to pay their rent. But sadly today many tenants that work full-time need to claim Universal Credit [housing benefit] to pay their rent. Just a fact of life today. No stigma is inferred in my comment.

James Leppard
2023-02-09 17:51:05

Gary Roberts, have been working closely with Colin Thorpe regarding premises for the Potter St hub.

2023-02-09 20:23:58

Ironically most people I know couldn't care less what happens to rents and council tax as they are living the good life on benefits and pay nothing.

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