Home Debt Essex councils rack up more than £3bn debt as expert warns of ‘extreme’ impact

Essex councils rack up more than £3bn debt as expert warns of ‘extreme’ impact

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Six councils across Essex have amassed debts of more than £200 million with experts predicting an “extreme and long-lasting” effect on local services. It comes as research has found authorities in the UK are £122 billion in debt.

UK councils owe a combined £97.8 billion to lenders, according to BBC analysis of data from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. That’s equivalent to £1,455 per resident, as of September 2023.

Across Essex‘s 14 local authorities, excluding Essex County Council, there has been more than £3m worth of debt amassed. Thurrock Council had the highest total (£1,415,889,000) whereas Chelmsford City Council had the lowest level of debt (£1,135,000).

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The council’s with the most debt per person were Harlow (£2,269), Brentwood (£2,815) and Thurrock (£8,049). Taking into account all types of local authorities however, such as police and crime commissioners and combined authorities, the debt pile rises to £122.2 billion.

Councillor David Kendall, Brentwood Borough Council’s Chair of the Finance, Assets, Investments & Recovery Committee, said: “What this data doesn’t give is any context or commentary around our position. To reassure our residents – the Council’s medium term financial strategy is robust and our governance process is robust.

“The value of our assets far outweighs our overall debt, and the returns we get on these assets provides additional income that we invest back into the services we provide. We also have mitigations in place to reduce the negative impact of unforeseen economic events.”

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