Warrington highlights credit rating success

14 Jul 16

Securing a credit rating has helped Warrington Borough Council raise money for a regeneration project, its finance director Lynton Green told a CIPFA conference workshop.

Green said the council had little grant from central government and needed to borrow to invest in the town’s economy.

Its £105m Bridge Street project for office and leisure redevelopment had been financed by cheaper borrowing because a credit rating gave assurance to investors and widened the field from which the council could borrow, he explained.

Warrington had gained an Aa2 rating from agency Moody’s, putting in on the same risk level as the governments of France and South Korea, he noted.

Green said the process of Moody’s assessing the council and then remaining in touch with its progress had in some ways replaced the ‘mirror’ formerly held up to councils by the Audit Commission’s use of resources check, and had proven useful in managing Warrington’s finances.

Senior Moody’s analyst Jennifer Wong said the agency would rate a public sector body according to its own financial status, the market in which it operates and the degree to which central government ultimately stood behind it.

Moody’s also rates Cornwall Council and Guildford Borough Council, both at Aa1, and Lancashire County Council at Aa3.

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