Wirral Council has emerged as a shock benefactor to other cash-strapped authorities, lending them millions of pounds at bargain-basement rates.

In 2013 town hall chiefs came under fire after the Globe revealed they had negotiated deals to lend cash to at least a dozen councils involving £35.5m.

Now that figure has rocketed to £50m - including a loan of £1.7m to the office of the police and crime commissioner in Lincolnshire.

The council says the deals are part of a drive to be "more commercial and creative with our money and find ways of making it go further."

Some of the biggest loans have been made in the last 12 months - £5m to Thurrock Council and £5m to Uttlesford District Council, both in Essex.

The interest rate charged by Wirral on these two loans is just 0.4%.

Conservative group deputy leader Cllr Lesley Rennie said: “Over the last five years Wirral’s Labour council has lent £51.7m to councils from the Highlands of Scotland to the London Borough of Haringey.

"Most of these loans are being given at less than 0.5% so they hardly represent value for money for this council.

"Residents quite rightly expect money they have paid in council tax to be used for services in this borough - not bailing out other councils in the rest of the UK.

"It’s time for the council to stop playing banker and start fixing the problems that residents here in Wirral are facing.”

A town hall spokesman said: “Since 2010, councils have faced unprecedented financial challenges.

"The National Audit Office stated recently that Central Government funding for councils has been reduced in real terms by 49% since austerity policies began, during a time when demand for services such as specialist social care is rising at its fastest ever rate.

“This has led to the wholesale closure of libraries, and leisure centres among many other services all across the country.

"To date Wirral hasn’t closed any - and this is because we manage our finances well."

The representative added: “If we are going to continue to protect our local services, we have to be more commercial and creative with our money and find ways of making it go further.

“We invest money in many different ways, including loans to other organisations, in order to generate a return on that investment.

"This return is used to help plug the huge gap in our budgets caused by austerity policies and rapidly increasing demand."

Those loans in full:Wirral Globe: