The Hartlepool Mail recently reported that additional government money might allow the rate of increase of Council tax to be lower this year. Not a cut in bills, just a reduction in how fast they are going up.
Are Hartlepool residents supposed to be grateful for a slower rate of increase? How about an actual cut in Council Taxes? Other Councils are doing it! Why not Hartlepool? Surely Councillors have a duty to rein in spending, eliminate waste and inefficiency and cut bills.
Last year Hammersmith and Fulham cut council tax by 3% and are planning to do it again this year. They achieved substantial savings through competitively tendering of council services, cutting waste and reducing bureaucracy. Savings in backroom operations and smarter working even allowed for a reduction in office space, saving their taxpayers £468,000.
While cutting tax Hammersmith & Fulham’s rating increased from 3 to the top-rated 4 stars, they are introducing 24-hour town centre policing and increasing spending on parks. Clean streets, recycling, tackling anti-social behaviour, improving health and education and promoting affordable home ownership are their top priorities.
Hammersmith and Fulham have shown you can reduce the tax burden on residents while improving the way the council runs things. Why can’t Hartlepool Council do the same? Before anyone says it’s because Hammersmith and Fulham are rich, affluent, southerners the local authority is ranked 59th out of 354 in England for average deprivation, which admittedly is better than Hartlepool in 8th place but still much closer to the bottom than the top.