NEW data obtained by the BBC shows that Hampshire councils are millions of pounds in debt.

The information comes from the Department for Levelling Up and shows that UK councils owe a combined £97.8bn to lenders, equivalent to £1,141 per resident, as of September 2023.

The high levels of local authority debt will see residents face impacts on local services.

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According to the data, Hampshire County Council has amassed £197,402,000 in debt, equivalent to £140 per resident.

Basingstoke Gazette: Hampshire County Council OfficesHampshire County Council Offices (Image: Newsquest)Meanwhile, Test Valley Borough Council has amassed £6,421,000 in debt and Winchester City Council has amassed £161,722,000, equivalent to £49 per resident and £1,264 per resident respectively.

The data showed no debt associated with Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council.

Basingstoke Gazette: Winchester GuildhallWinchester Guildhall (Image: Contributed)A spokesman for Test Valley Borough Council said: “The debt in question is the result of proactive decision-making on our part, to finance two capital projects through affordable, fixed-rate loans with the Public Works Loan Board. These relate to the re-development of the Andover Leisure Centre and the purchase of property in Andover in 2019.

“The loans were taken out for fixed terms at fixed interest rates, with the full cost of both built into council budgets. Both loans are subject to annual repayments of both capital and interest, so the outstanding amounts will gradually reduce over time and are being actively managed in an affordable way. The interest rate payable on the loans is far more favourable than would be currently available, due to the extremely cheap borrowing conditions at the time they were taken out.

Basingstoke Gazette: Test Valley Borough Council officesTest Valley Borough Council offices (Image: Contributed)“Each loan had a supporting business case that demonstrated the affordability of borrowing in the context of the wider projects. The borrowing figure quoted should also be set in the context of the £90M+ in cash and equivalent investments that were being managed by the council at that time.”

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A spokesperson for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said: “Councils are ultimately responsible for their own finances, but we are very clear they should not put taxpayers' money at risk by taking on excessive debt.

“The Levelling Up and Regeneration Act provides new powers for central government to step in when councils take excessive risk with borrowing and investment. We have also established the Office for Local Government to further improve accountability across the sector, which will help detect emerging risks and support councils to continue delivering key public services.”

Winchester City Council and Hampshire County Council have been reached for comment.