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Local authority capital expenditure and resourcing

Last updated – 06 June 2018


Local authorities meet the costs of their statutory and discretionary services through a combination of revenue and capital expenditure. Revenue spending covers day-to-day costs such as wages. Capital expenditure relates to investments in assets such as buildings and transport infrastructure.

The interactive visualisation below describes changes in capital expenditure and resourcing since 2010-11 for individual local authorities using information published by the Department for Communities and Local Government.

You can use it to explore the broad trends identified by our report Financial sustainability of local authorities: capital expenditure and resourcing and build a richer understanding of what they mean for different authorities.

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How to use this visualisation

All the graphics are interactive:

  • Hovering over the maps and charts gives you more detailed information.
  • If you click on a council on the map, or the name of a council on the list, the data presented will be for that council only.
  • Clicking on a category in any of the charts will show only information category applies to. For example, if you select 2014-15 in one chart then the other charts will show information for 2014-15 as well.

To go back to where you started you can either click:

  • The category you used as a filter
  • Reset in the bottom left corner, or
  • Undo at the top of the screen.

Hold ‘Ctrl’ (Apple ⌘) to select multiple items and compare.

Capital Expenditure and Resourcing: Key trends

Capital spending, and borrowing, vary between individual authorities. This is because they reflect the particular services each authority provides and the distinctive nature of their local economies. For example, local authorities that own social housing tend to have larger asset bases and higher capital spending than others. Likewise some authorities are responsible for assets like markets or historic buildings that attract visitors and contribute to economic wellbeing.

For these reasons, comparisons between places need to be undertaken with caution. Any apparent differences between places are an opportunity to gather more information and build a richer understanding. The complexity of factors underlying the data means that differences in figures presented here should not be viewed as indicative in any way of the current ‘performance’ of an authority. For instance, the level of spending or borrowing in an authority are likely to be the outcome of a wide range of different local factors and decisions some of which may date back decades.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Where does this data come from?

Why has the NAO published this data?

Is this data the same as that published by Department for Communities and Local Government?

Is this data the same as that in the report Financial sustainability of local authorities: capital expenditure and resourcing?

Can I compare the results between local authorities?

Can I compare the results between years?

What are debt servicing costs?

What is internal borrowing?

Why do borrowing and investment data from the Capital Outturn returns and the Borrowing and Lending Inquiry not agree?

How can I get an accessible version of this visualisation?

My question is not answered here, where can I get more information?