Citizen Debt Audits are Challenging Big Finance in the U.K. and Beyond

London Calling

In 2014, residents in England acquired the right to inspect their local councils’ accounts through the Local Audit and Accountability Act. It is in London, a global capital of finance and corruption, where people are most using these laws to undercut the corporate interests.

LOBO & PFI Scams

Addressing suspect bank deals, the citizen network Debt Resistance U.K. continues to work on Lender Option Borrower Option, or LOBO, loans. These long-term loans with varying interest rates that councils took out from banks — especially in the early 2000s before the crisis — are often such complex financial products that councils could not understand what they signed.

Reclaiming Democracy

These three campaigns in the U.K. have strong parallels with the municipalist movement in Spain. In local elections in 2015, many councils — including Madrid and Barcelona, the country’s biggest cities — were taken over by progressive coalitions that are now learning to govern the cities in the interests of the people. One of the strategies they use is auditing debt: according to a 2012 change in the Spanish constitution, municipalities are forced to prioritize debt repayments over social spending.

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Steve Rushton

Steve Rushton

Freelance journalist focused on political alternatives, universal rights and ecological survival