Letter of the day: Would you pay more council tax?

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With local authority spending down by approaching half since 2010 and services such as libraries, public toilets and community wardens, a thing of the past in many areas, it should be a source of celebration that Portsmouth City Council is building more council homes than at any time in the past 30 years.

More than 200 properties will be delivered in the period between 2014 and 2019.

If Portsmouth built at the national average, that figure would be just over 30.

It is in this context that I must refute the claims made by M Garbutt (letters, Nov 7) that far more social properties would be being developed were it not for the poor relations between councillors in Portsmouth and Havant.

Relations with our neighbours are fine; moreover limits on social housing development are driven by serious issues of finance and not trivial ones of personality.

Council housing is let at discounted rents and can be bought under the right-to-buy at a substantial discount.

These factors mean each unit requires a subsidy.

Portsmouth City Council is using receipts from the right-to-buy to cover a third of the cost of new units, but the sums available are finite.

To build more units would require the taxpayer to plug the difference.

The level of subsidy obviously varies between site and with property size, but is generally estimated to be not less than £60,000 – and that is without factoring in recent and pending changes in government rules that are likely to inflate that number still further.

So if people want more council housing, then we have to pay more council tax. £1 on Band D bills raises £55,000, so more or less it’s a pound-per-property (and that’s the minimum figure).

That is the reason why no council in this country is building thousands of council properties – it is because council taxpayers have no appetite to fund it.

Cllr Luke Stubbs

South Parade, Southsea