A council has hit back at claims it is at risk of bankruptcy over the size of its debt.

Worthing Borough Council has questioned figures from leading credit agency Moody’s, which claimed the town has a debt-to-income ratio of 14.4.

Moody’s put Worthing fifth highest for high debt levels, based on core spending power, final local finance settlements for 2023/24 and analysis from the firm.

However, the council disputes the figure and says its debt-to-income ratio is 4.4, based on figures from the council’s joint treasury management strategy statement from February this year.

A council spokesman said they “do not recognise the figures suggested by Moody’s”.

He said Worthing Borough Council has faced several challenges, including cuts from government, inflation and the soaring cost of living.

“Like every local authority, we are having to juggle reduced funding from central government with dramatically increased costs caused by factors outside our control, such as inflation and the rising cost of living," he said.

“We regularly review our investments to ensure they represent good value for money for our residents and do not consider them to be high risk.

“They continue to provide much-needed income to fund our vital frontline services such as supporting the homeless and the most vulnerable in our community.”

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Moody’s warned that more councils in England could face bankruptcy due to falling property prices, high inflation, interest rates and increased service demand.

It comes after councils in Birmingham, Woking, Thurrock, Slough and Croydon issued Section 114 notices, meaning they do not have the resources to balance their budgets.

A report by the credit agency said: “We expect more English local authorities to fail over the near term.

“Borrowing for commercial investment increased significantly over the past decade to generate revenues and offset a decline in government funding. This was facilitated by significant borrowing flexibility introduced by central government in 2003 and 2011.

“Borrowing rules have tightened since 2020, effectively ending local authorities’ property investment strictly for revenue gains, although legacy assets remain.”

Moody’s was contacted for comment.