THURROCK Council’s debt is at an eye-watering £1.49billion, a report has revealed.

A quarterly report shows the cash-strapped council’s mountain of debt shows little sign of receding after a raft of loans from 150 local authorities across the UK, which were revealed in 2020.

At the time the Government restricted the council’s borrowing which then stood at £1.3billion.

Some of the money was said to have been invested in green energy companies.

The council is currently undergoing a belt-tightening exercise to save £34.3million and balance its budget, but it will mean the loss of 500 jobs and the sale of many council assets.

Even with the measures, the council is still £3.8million short of balancing its budget.

Shane Hebb, councillor responsible for finance, presented a quarter two financial report to cabinet yesterday.

The report shows children’s services have overspent by £4.8million, with funding expected to bring that figure down to £2.9million.

The report said: “There is concern that these pressures will affect the directorate’s ability to contribute towards identified savings in future years and this will remain under assessment.”

Children and family services overspent by a further £3.6million and residential placements cost an extra £1million.

The council’s adult health and housing service had an underspend of £400,000, but the council said this was largely due to a delay in recruiting social workers.

The authority has made investments of £1,031billion leaving it with a net debt of £428million, but it is reliant on interest payments on its debt - a mix of long and short-term loans - remaining steady.

The council has also borrowed funds for the building works carried out by Thurrock Regeneration Ltd at the St Chads site in Tilbury.

The report added: “Officers are continuing to investigate opportunities to raise long-term funds to finance these works but, as short-term rates are currently low and predicted to remain there for the foreseeable future, the council will continue to borrow on a short-term basis until the long-term funds become attractive in comparison.

“All interest costs are met by Thurrock Regeneration Ltd with the council benefitting from an interest rate premium.”