Finance alert over council’s debt burden

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A FINANCIAL warning has been issued to East Lothian Council after it emerged it has the highest level of net external debt burden out of all Scottish local authorities.

An independent audit report by KPMG suggested that the total mountain of debt was the equivalent of £3500 for every person in the county and placed “significant pressures on future available revenue funding”.

The Audit Scotland benchmark, taken from analysis of the unaudited financial statements of the country’s 32 local authorities, showed that East Lothian had the highest level of net external debt when taken as a proportion of revenue expenditure and per head of population.

Borrowing rose in 2011-12 by £38.9 million – 15 per cent – compared to a 26 per cent increase in capital expenditure.