Investment is at risk from borrowing hike

By Tony Kirkham | 23 October 2019
  • Tony Kirkham

On 9 October, chief finance officers received an email out of the blue out from ‘certainty.rate’. It informed us that the Government had done two things: firstly, legislated to increase the statutory limit on how much the Public Works Loan Board (PWLB) can lend out from £85bn to £95bn, and, secondly, increased the interest rates on such loans by 100 basis points on top of existing terms – all on loans from 9.30am on that day.

Increasing the amount of borrowing available to councils through the PWLB to support much-needed capital expenditure is a good thing, but to instantly add 1% to the cost of that borrowing is disappointing. Not only does it potentially put at risk much-needed investment, but to do it without any consultation doesn’t say much for the relationship between local government and the Treasury which apparently is where certainty.rate lives. All this comes when we felt we had been making progress in our working relationship through preparations for the Spending Round with useful round tables and informative visits.

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