BEN Houchen has pledged not to add a “mayoral precept” to council tax bills throughout his term in office.

In a letter to Communities Secretary Sajid Javid, the Tees Valley Mayor said his plans for growth in the region can be funded through existing cash devolved to the area from government, without the need for the need for an additional precept.

Devolution legislation allows five of the six mayoral combined authority mayors to raise a precept to help fund their functions.

The Government requires that the five Metro Mayors set out whether they will propose a precept for the 2018-19 financial year, however Mr Houchen has confirmed he will not exercise this power at all throughout his term, which runs until 2020.

Mr Javid said last month that he was letting mayors set their own council tax precept level this year rather than being subjected like individual councils to a threshold for increases above which referendums are required.

Mr Houchen said: “I didn’t stand for election to increase taxes – that’s not why I’m here. Our local Labour councils already charge an arm and a leg, and I won’t be adding to that burden.

“People across our area work hard, many for long hours and in difficult jobs. I want to build a Tees Valley where people are able to get on, stand on their own two feet and build a better life for themselves and their family.

"The best way we can achieve this is by helping people keep more of the money they earn.

“I have a £464 million warchest to invest in local priorities over the next four years.

"I am proud to say that my ambitious plans for jobs, growth and investment can be funded through money devolved to us from government without the need for a precept or levy.”