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WEDC Conference - Public Loans Financing, England

Financing access to improved water and sanitation, Public Works Loans Board, UK

The challenge of funding the SDG’s has led to considerable interest in ‘innovative financing’. This paper reports on an analysis of sector lending, capital expenditure, and resulting, consumer paid, interest rates, during the rapid expansion of water and sewerage services in England and Wales over a 150 year period. Government minimised the cost to consumers by establishing a Public Works Loans Board (PWLB) which on-lent national borrowing to local municipal service providers at the lowest possible interest rate so as to accelerate access to improved services.

With the cost of achieving basic WASH services for all now estimated at $28.4bn per year (Hutton & Varughese, 2016) and tariffs and taxes being insufficient to meet the needs, repayable finance becomes critical to achieve the desired SDG benefits. PWLB long-term average ‘real’ interest rates of 1.95% (5% nominal) made a significant difference to affordability in Britain as compared to some present ‘innovative financing’ reports of 15-20% per year nominal interest costs.

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