Council Owned Assets

The TaxPayers Alliance (TPA), which is, in essence, a right wing libertarian organisation funded by millionaires, recently produced a ‘report’ on council owned assets which said the following:

“New research from the TaxPayers’ Alliance today demonstrates that councils up and down the United Kingdom are hoarding  assets as diverse as golf courses and a model railway despite the scale of Britain’s financial challenge.

Between 2009-10 and 2014-15, local authority spending has been reduced by 23.4 per cent per person in real terms.

With growing populations, reductions in central government grants in many areas, and a cap on Council Tax increases, many councils are reducing services. However, as this report details, a number of authorities retain significant property assets.”

This angers me on many levels, but primarily because the TPA are making people think that councils owning assets is a “bad” thing when it’s not: or at least its not necessarily a bad thing.

The questions to ask are:

  • Does the asset in question make more money than it costs to maintain?
  • Is the council’s ownership of the asset of benefit to the public?
  • Would money in the bank bring a better return than the asset?

Something to remember is that money realised by the sale of assets can’t be used to fund day-to-day services. It goes into a separate pot and can only be used to fund other capital expenditure. For an explanation look here.

If councils are using their assets to keep council taxes low then surely that is a good thing?