City council has debts of PS693.3m.
Byline: MATT DISCOMBE AND GARETH WILLIAMS email@example.com
CARDIFF council is almost PS700m in debt - and plans to borrow even more in the coming years. Figures show the council was borrowing a total of PS693.3m from various types of loans at March 31, 2018.
That's just shy of PS2,000 for every man, woman and child in Cardiff, based on its estimated population of 350,000.
And that's set to continue as PS61.1m of council spending in 2017/18 - a tenth of its PS609m budget - is to be paid for by borrowing.
The Labour administration also told a full council meeting on Thursday that borrowing would continue to invest in the city.
Council leader Huw Thomas said: "Significant sums of money are being borrowed to invest in our city particularly the money we're putting into our school estate investing in our childrens' future.
"These are prudential borrowings, as signed off by the Section 151 officer and agreed by the Welsh Audit Office."
He told councillors: "So if you do disagree with the investment we're putting into Cardiff's infrastructure, to Cardiff's schools, you are entitled to do so but please don't try and build that argument on the grounds of affordability."
Conservative councillor Joel Williams told the meeting that council's annual statement of accounts shows the authority is PS1bn in debt - but the council has said this is a misunderstanding of the figures.
He expressed concern about the amount of debt the council is under.
He said: "We are borrowing an awful lot of money as a council and that is going to put pressures on revenue budgets in the future."
The debt figures include PS631,760,000 from the Public Works Loans Board, which is part of the UK Treasury, PS51,000,000 from long-term loans from banks and PS10,515,000 from the Welsh Government.
Councillor Chris Weaver, the council's cabinet member for finance, said: "To say the council is PS1bn in debt is an alarmist and blatant oversimplification and misunderstanding of very detailed accounts which have been audited and signed off by the Wales Audit Office.
"The council's actual debt stands at PS693.3m, which is a manageable debt which includes the council's historic capital expenditure, approved in previous budgets, set by council and its predecessor authorities many years ago. "Moving forward there are programmes of future capital expenditure and works which are set to take place over many years which can be described as the normal workings of a functioning local authority. This includes investment to improve school buildings as part of the 21st Century Schools Programme.
"This is the biggest school-buildings project Wales has ever seen. It also refers to investment in existing buildings, highway infrastructure, disabled adaptations, new affordable housing schemes and regeneration projects."
The figures come as councils across Wales have warned of the dwindling finances and cuts facing authorities across Wales.
<B Cardiff Council faces massive debts
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|Publication:||Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)|
|Date:||Sep 29, 2018|
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