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Local Government Act 2003

Sections 7 and 8: Credit arrangements

21.A main aim of the present capital finance system was to regulate the innovative property leasing and hire purchase deals which some authorities used before 1990 to evade the controls on borrowing then in force. Such transactions, known collectively as ‘credit arrangements’, have the same crucial effects as borrowing – they both increase public expenditure and create significant long-term revenue commitments at the local level.

22.Credit arrangements (as defined in section 7) will continue to be treated like borrowing under the new system. Section 8 ensures that the affordability assessment under section 3 must take account not only of borrowing but also of credit arrangements. In addition, any national limit imposed under the reserve powers in section 4 would apply to both borrowing and credit.

23.The definition of credit arrangements is much simpler than under the present system, relying on the accounting concept of long-term liabilities. The power to vary that definition by regulations would be used to provide that certain liabilities (such as those relating to pensions) are excluded from the definition.

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