CASH-strapped Dudley Council’s debts mean each borough resident owes the equivalent of more than £2,000, according to BBC analysis.

The authority, which is struggling to fill a £12m budget black hole, had debts totalling £663,814,000 during the second quarter of the current financial year.

The Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) data shows the figure boils down to £2,051 for each of the borough’s 323,581 residents.

Dudley spends around £320m per year and councillors are grappling with a deficit which means big spending cuts look certain for the coming financial years.

Councillor Steve Clark, Dudley's cabinet member for finance, said: “Debt is a normal part of the function of any local authority and we invest in assets to allow us to run services right across the council. 

“Currently we pay £7.3million a year on the general fund element of the debt and £17.4million for the housing revenue account part.

“Unless there is a change in the rules, we cannot borrow to cover a revenue deficit.”

Out of the 382 local authorities in Britain studied by the BBC, Dudley ranks at 68 for per head debt.

Woking Borough Council in Surrey is top with an eye-watering £18,756 per resident while, locally, Wolverhampton comes in with £2,663 per person and bankrupt Birmingham’s more than one million residents get a number of £2,582 each.

Solihull’s per head statistic puts it at 99 with £1,528 per person, Sandwell is at £1,167 per person, people in Walsall get a figure of £810 per resident.

A spokesperson for the Local Government Association, which represents councils across England and Wales, said:  “Councils have faced a choice of either accepting funding reductions and cutting services or making investments to try and protect them. This was an approach that was encouraged by the government.  

“While councils have made investment decisions to help them replace funding shortfalls, the majority of council borrowing is focused on investing in projects that contribute to their local economies or help them provide core functions, such as housing and transport schemes.

“When making investments, councils are required to follow strict rules and assessments to ensure they invest wisely and manage the risk of their investments appropriately. 

“The government needs to come up with a long-term plan to sufficiently fund local services.”

A DLUHC spokesperson said: “Councils are ultimately responsible for their own finances, but we are very clear they should not put taxpayers’ money at risk by taking on excessive debt.

“The Levelling Up and Regeneration Act provides new powers for central government to step in when councils take excessive risk with borrowing and investment.”