Which Local Authorities aren’t cooperating?

Debt Resistance UK sent Freedom of Information requests to over 250 UK Local Authorities. So far 80 authorities have disclosed all the details of LOBO loan borrowing requested. The following authorities have refused to release the details of their LOBO loans, which means it’s impossible to determine their true financial postions:

City of Glasgow UA
Cornwall UA
Warrington UA
Swansea UA
North Lanarkshire UA
Aberdeenshire UA
City of Aberdeen UA
Rhondda Cynon Taff UA
West Dunbartonshire UA
Brighton & Hove UA
Luton UA
Kingston upon Thames
Shropshire UA
City of Nottingham UA
Waltham Forest
Hartlepool UA
South Ayrshire UA
City of Dundee UA
North East Lincolnshire UA
Darlington UA
East Sussex
Newport UA
Moray UA
Middlesborough UA
Angus UA
Thurrock UA
Weymouth & Portland
St Helens
Wrexham UA
Clackmannon UA
Derby City UA
Bath & North East Somerset UA
Midlothian UA
Bridgend UA
Cheshire East UA
High Peak
King’s Lynn & West Norfolk
Forest Heath
West Yorkshire Fire & CD Authority
Stockton-on-Tees UA
West Yorkshire Integrated Transport Authority
St Edmundsbury

Notable non-disclosing authorities


The London Borough of Newham has disclosed that it is party to 27 LOBO loans, from the following lenders:

  • Bayerische Landesbank
  • Barclays Bank
  • Depfa Bank
  • Dexia Bank
  • Europaische Hypothekenbank
  • Royal Bank of Scotland
  • Merrill Lynch Bank

The loans were taken out between 2002 and 2010 under the advice of Treasury management advisors Sector and Butlers (now Capita).

The Council refuses to disclose the LOBO loan agreements, using an exemption under Section 43 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. In response to a request for an internal review of the Council’s handling of his FOI request of 28th December 2013, Ranjan Kumaran received the following justification of the exemption:

“Disclosure of the contracts could affect the Authority’s ability to negotiate favourable rates with Banks in the future and therefore the Council does not believe that there is an overriding public interest in providing the information.”

Newham Council has debts to private banks amounting to nearly half a billion pounds, one of the highest rates of poverty among London boroughs and huge (and growing) demand for social housing. As yet it is unclear whether Newham Council has been getting “favourable rates” on the LOBO borrowing it has already undertaken.


FOI requests to Manchester City Council have revealed that the authority entered into 51 LOBO loan contracts between 1991 and 2010. Thirty loans are still outstanding and total more than £415m.

The Council paid brokers fees of nearly £600,000 over this period for arranging LOBO loans.The lion’s share of these fees (£340,850.82) went to Tullett Prebon while Sector / Capita Asset Services have collected over £200,000 in fees for providing Treasury Management services since 2006. Butlers also earned £47,000 for providing Treasury Advice in 2006-07 and 2007-08. The Council claims it would be too expensive to retrieve information about who was providing treasury advice before 2006.

The Council has also redacted all the Lender’s Option dates from the LOBO agreements it has disclosed, citing potential prejudice to the Council’s commercial interests. It does not explain how disclosing the details of loan agreements negotiated in, e.g. 1991, would affect its negotiating powers in 2015 and beyond.

For the time being though it is impossible to compare Manchester’s LOBO borrowing with equivalent PWLB lending, so we have no idea whether all those fees to brokers and Treasury Advisers provided good value for money.

Newcastle Upon Tyne

Newcastle City Council is party to 24 LOBO loans with the following lenders:

  • Barclays
  • FMS Wertmanagement
  • Dexia
  • Erste Europäische
  • Royal Bank of Scotland
  • Bayerische Landesbank
  • EAA Covered Bond Bank
  • BAE Pension Fund

Data from the Department for Communities and Local Government indicates that Newcastle’s total outstanding debt in the form of LOBOs could be as high as £320m but, because the Council refuses to release the loan agreements under FOI, we can’t be sure.

The Council is attempting to apply an exemption under Section 41 (breach of confidence) as well as an exemption under Section 43 (commercial interests). It seems oblivious to the fact that trying to apply both of these exemptions at the same time is contradictory (it is attempting to neither confirm nor deny that the information exists on one hand but also claiming that the possibly non-existent information could prejudice commercial interests on the other) and is unwilling to apply a transparent public interest test.

Unfortunately a request for an internal review of the Council’s FOI response, made on 9th May remains unanswered.


FOI requests to Salford City Council have revealed that it is party to 14 LOBO loans from the following lenders:

  • FMS Wertmanagement AOR
  • Barclays Bank plc
  • Eurohypo
  • KBC Bank NV
  • Royal Bank of Scotland
  • KA Finanz AG
  • Dexia Municipal Agency

However, the Council refuses to disclose the loan agreements and has applied an exemption under Section 43(2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

DCLG figures indicate that the total amount of outstanding LOBO debt could be as high as £282m but, because Salford Council is dragging its heels over an internal review of its handling of the FOI request, we don’t yet know. Neither do we know who advised the Council to enter into the loan contracts.