Dutch local councils have debts of more than €70bn

The combined debt of the Netherlands’ 500 or so local councils, provincial governments and water boards reached more than €70bn by the first quarter of this year, according to new figures from the national statistics office CBS.

This is a rise of 40% over seven years, the CBS said. The increase is due to councils spending more than they receive from central government and in local taxes.

‘This is a consequence of the crisis and the associated spending cuts,’ the CBS said.

Local councils account for €52bn of the debt, the provinces almost €6bn, waterboards €7.5bn and cross-council alliances €5bn.

However, the debt is far from being a record, the CBS points out. In the 1980s and 1990s, local governments owed between €70bn and €80bn after borrowing money from central government to finance the growth in social housing.