Published: 13th Jul 2020

A group of MPs has criticised ministers for being ‘blind’ to the ‘extreme risks’ taken by some councils investing in shopping centres, office blocks and other properties. In a report published today (13 July), the influential public accounts committee says that some councils have exposed themselves to large commercial investments, which could create problems in the future. It also accuses the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) of being ‘blind’ to the issue, risking a repeat of the impact of the overexposure of local authorities to loans from Icelandic banks in 2008. As previously reported by New Start, some local authorities have borrowed multiple times their annual spending power. A report by the National Audit Office, which was published in February, revealed councils in England spent £6.6bn on property investments between 2016 and 2019. The report says MHCLG must ‘develop and rapidly deploy interventions that target’ this kind of … (To read the full article, subscribe below)