Research and Analytics


CIPFA Local Authority Assets Statistics

May 2006

The survey provides information on the balances and reserves at authorities' disposal, their long-term indebtedness, and the fixed and current assets employed in their operations, together with information on the operational assets held and capital charges. The format and valuations follow the principles set out in the 'Code of Practice on Local Authority Accounting in Great Britain' published in 1993.

Returns were received from 383 authorities, a response rate of 71%. In order to allow more meaningful comparisons to be made, all figures in this commentary and in the summary tables which follow are based on 'grossed data', that is figures which have been adjusted to compensate for missing data and non-responding authorities. This is intended to give a consistent base to the statistics.

Totals in the summary tables for England, Wales and Scotland include data for police and fire authorities. Data for the Greater London Authority have been excluded throughout this publication from all relevant class totals.

Survey Results

The survey shows that at 31st March 2005, for Great Britain as a whole, authorities (including police and fire) own operational assets valued at 246.9 billions, which is over four times greater than the 52.582 billions in outstanding debt. Table 1 summarises the data and more detailed information can be found in Summary Table A on page 5.

Outstanding Debt as a Proportion of the Value of Operational Assets
Whilst a comparison between fixed assets and debt, may be meaningful for most authorities it should be appreciated that those with high levels of debt might well have undertaken substantial amounts of capital investment. On average, for England, authorities' operational assets are worth 4,318 per head of population, compared to 3,901 in Wales and 3,745 in Scotland. For Great Britain as a whole the figure is 4,246. Detailed information can be found in Summary Table B.

Figure 1 shows how Council Housing and other land and buildings dominate the balance sheets. Between them these comprise almost 90% of the valuation of operational assets. Of the two, council housing is the principal asset in most non-metropolitan areas and for this reason there is a marked and progressive variation in the value of long term assets between rural and urban authorities. Figure 1 is presented using a logarithmic scale simply because the values of vehicles, equipment, infrastructure (eg roads and paths) and other community assets (eg parks and historic buildings) are small in comparison.

Value of Operational Assets per Head of Population
Operational Assets are those used by authorities in the delivery of their service. Therefore, after discounting council housing, the most significant assets, not surprisingly, are those managed by the education service. The value of schools and other educational resources, is measured at 1,119 per head of population, representing 51% of the total value of general fund operational assets. In contrast other community resources such as leisure facilities, libraries and museums, are valued at 20.7% of education assets. The equipment and plant of local authority direct service and commercial operations is valued at 23 per head of population.

Operational Assets by Service at 31st March 2005 ( per Head of Population)
Capital Charges

The capital accounting guidelines provide for authorities to make a charge on their assets to cover a notional rental reflecting use and depreciation. Whilst the charges are defined differently it is still of interest to view the approximate charge rates on operational assets by service as shown in Table 3. Total capital charges in 2004/05 amounted to 13,157m, equivalent to 226.28 per head of population. Figures range from an average of 174.07 in Metropolitan areas to 348.54 in London. Table 4 provides details.

Capital Charges on Assets by Service (Rate as a Proportion of the Value of Operational Assets)
Capital Charges on Assets by Service (/Hd of Population)
Summary Tables

Consolidated Balance Sheet at 31 March 2005 (Grossed)
Consolidated Balance Sheet at 31 March 2005 per head of population (Grossed)

May 2006

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