Every adult in Hastings owes the Public Works Loan Board (PWLB) almost £1,000.
Tonight members of Hastings Borough Council’s (HBC) cabinet will hear that the council’s debt to the PWLB has topped £65m and is set to rise even further if plans the council has in the pipeline for further property acquisition and development go ahead.
Papers being presented to tonight’s cabinet by Peter Grace, the council’s Chief Finance Officer as part of the Treasury Management Mid-Year Report show that at September 30th last year HBC owed £65,601,473 to the PWLB at interest rates ranging from 1.83 pr cent through to 4.8 per cent.
While some of the smaller loans will be settled as early as 2028 ore than half of the loans will run until 2050 and beyond, the longest period bing until 2060.
HBC’s use of PWLB loans to fund an aggressive policy of commercial property acquisition and more recently development has ben well documented and as recently as last month the council’s cabinet was discussing taking further loans for additional property purchase.
A recent report by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism found that the public want councils to be more transparent about their borrowing and property acquisition plans: “The public overwhelmingly believes councils should provide greater transparency on property investments,” thr report says, quoting a survey by YouGov.
“Some of the smallest local authorities in England have amassed debts the equivalent of more than ten times their spending power to buy commercial property such as shopping centres, supermarkets and business parks. The number of councils investing in real estate to generate revenue has doubled in the past two years.
“Councils say the deals are low risk and bring in extra revenue to replace funding cut by central government. However, some experts have warned borrowing to fund the purchases ties the future of vital public services to the uncertainty of the property market, says the report.
To read it in full follow this link https://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/stories/2018-12-04/public-is-kept-in-the-dark-over-councils-billion-pound-property-deals