Bad debts to be written off

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Pendle Council’s Executive heard last night how the authority is handling bad debts relating to council tax and business rates.

Members were set to decide which debts it writes off, for example, because the people concerned have disappeared.

Some debts are also in the hands of administrators because of companies which have gone bankrupt, and may be paid at a much later date.

The amount of debt the executive will be asked to write off for unpaid council tax is £260,372 and £318,401 for business rates.

All avenues for collecting these sums have, at present, been exhausted.

Coun. Linda Crossley, who oversees finance, said: “There does come a time when chasing a debt is no longer economically viable. But we do keep these debts on the system and when we get new information, we pursue them.”

Chief finance officer Dean Langton said: “To put it in perspective, Pendle Council collects more than 97% of its debts, and we are recommending councillors agree to write off just 0.77%.

“In fact, local authorities perform really well when it comes to the collection of taxes. We give local residents advice on paying council tax, for example, helping them to spread the cost by using direct debit.

“When people get into debt to the council, we act quickly to try to sort the situation out.

“We take a fair and consistent approach to recover unpaid debts, taking into account people’s ability to pay and their circumstances.

“But it’s important the small number of people deliberately trying to avoid paying what they owe to the council aren’t allowed to get away with it.

“We only use bailiffs, or the courts, if we have to.”