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Council Tax freeze and millions for transforming Harlow approved

Published date

For the third year running Harlow Council has agreed to freeze its share of the Council Tax bill as part of its budget for the year ahead.  

Around £13 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. While Harlow Council will freeze its share of the bill, the county council, Essex Police and the Fire Service are all increasing their shares this year.

The council’s budget for 2024 to 2025 also protects every single council service from cuts and record investments will be made to deliver residents’ priorities.

The budget, which was approved on 22 February, will see:

  • A typical band C household continue to pay just £4.93 per week for Harlow Council services
  • A 7.7% housing rent increase for council tenants, in line with government guidelines, taking the average rent from £104.18 to £112.20 a week
  • Over £120 million to transform council housing and improve and deliver housing services
  • Over £37 million to build 103 new council homes for Harlow families
  • Over £32 million to carry out upgrades to the Playhouse, Pets’ Corner, Paddling Pools and splash parks, Harlow Museum, and the Latton Bush Centre.
  • Free car parking periods in the neighbourhood shopping centres and the Town Park remaining

There will also be:

  • Funding to continue keeping Harlow streetlights on all night, every night, and funding for more CCTV around the town to protect our communities
  • Significant funding to protect green spaces from unauthorised traveller encampments
  • A new Neighbourhood Renewal Fund to deliver targeted neighbourhood renewal projects and over £1.2 million to upgrade shopping hatches and neighbourhood shopping centres
  • Some small and proportional increases in certain fees and charges, but much-loved services such as Pets’ Corner, Museum and the paddling pools and splash parks will remain free-to-use 

Councillor Dan Swords, Leader of Harlow Council, said:

“It is no secret that councils up and down the country are facing a huge challenge to balance their budgets and protect services from cuts. But in Harlow it is a completely different story: we are freezing Harlow’s share of Council Tax and protecting all our much-loved and essential services, while investing record amounts into delivering our residents’ priorities.

“There will be more money than ever to deliver our new priorities which are to: transform Harlow’s housing, renew our neighbourhoods, rebuild our town, secure investment for Harlow’s future, protect our communities, and deliver high-performing council services.

“There will be over £120m this year for council housing, to both improve the standard of council homes and improve our housing services. This comes alongside £32 million to upgrade council services and facilities and more investment into the day-to-day services the council provides.

“I am proud of this budget and optimistic about the future of our town as a result of the tens of millions of pounds of investment it will deliver into transforming Harlow. This news comes alongside the announcement that we have been nominated for ‘Most Improved Council of the Year’ which demonstrates recognition that we are delivering on the priorities we have set out.”

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

“Once again, our Council Tax freeze bucks the national trend with Harlow Council delivering a freeze for the third-year running. We are likely to be one of only a few councils to not increase their part of the Council Tax bill.

“We can't control what the overall Council Tax bill is as the greater part is set by Essex County Council and the Fire & Police Commissioner, 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 with our share of the bill remaining at the same level as it was in 2021.

“Furthermore some 6,000 plus households on low incomes will continue to receive support with their overall Council Tax bill with the Local Council Tax Support scheme remaining unchanged for the 11th year running.”