When we took over from Labour in 2006 my council of Hammersmith of Fulham had General Fund debt of £164 million – it is now under £100 million and falling fast, with the sale of many surplus buildings still to come. Many councils are debt free. But for many others debt interest is a substantial item that the Council Tax is spent on. Yet councils often pay little attention to reducing debt.
Nottingham City Council has refused to publish its spending on items over £500. But it concedes that it is required to publish a Statement of Account.
The report says:
Actual borrowing on 1 April 2010 was £667m and this increased to £732m at 31 March 2011.
During the year, new borrowing totalling £20m was raised from the Public Works Loan Board (PWLB) to finance new capital expenditure and replace matured debt. In addition, temporary borrowing from other local authorities to meet cash flow requirements increased by £45m.
It also says that the "interest payable and similar charges for 2010/11" was £53 million.
Lambeth Council's Statement of Account shows debt mountain of £625 million. "Interest payable was £38.4 million."
The Council are selling a couple of pubs. But they are not planning to use even those modest proceeds to reduce debt.