Councillors ‘need to better informed about borrowing’

Written by Tom Freeman on 19 March 2015 in News

Report for Audit Scotland suggests council borrowing is not for long-term

Local authority borrowing has not been adequately scrutinised in some parts of Scotland because councillors have not had the clear information to make informed decisions, a new Accounts Commission report has suggested.

Although councils are following the relevant codes of practice in terms of the affordability of borrowing in the short-term, they are not always providing evidence of it in the long-term, the report found.

If governance are to be solid, councillors need to be trained how to scrutinise the plans, it said.

Douglas Sinclair, chair of the Accounts Commission, said: "This is a highly complex technical area. Councillors don't need to know every detail but they do need to know enough to ask the right questions. This is a critical part of council business which requires close and effective scrutiny, particularly in times like this when budgets are so tight.

"We hope this report will help councillors and officers make improvements through clearer information and wider analysis of options so that they can be confident that their borrowing policies deliver best value in the longer term."

Scotland’s 32 councils have a total debt of £14.8bn, including £2.7bn from Public Private Partnerships.

Scottish Conservative local government spokesman Cameron Buchanan said the report made “worrying reading” and was a warning to councils over borrowing levels.

“As demand for services increase, local authorities need to look at how long-term their financial plans actually are. The Scottish Conservatives are currently setting up a commission to look into the issue of how councils are funded, and we agree that a much wider debate is well overdue,” he said.

Tags

Categories

Related Articles

Hollywood actor Michael Sheen backs Scottish fair loans scheme
23 January 2018

Michael Sheen has backed a campaign to help Scotland’s poorest people break free of high cost credit and give them access affordable loans

Charity reports 20 per cent increase in foodbank use
7 November 2017

The Trussell Trust is concerned the situation will worsen leading up to Christmas when demand for food traditionally spikes

Inspiring change: inclusive growth
18 September 2017

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s recent conference on inclusive growth brought together policymakers from all sectors across Scotland  

Share this page