Debt of £8m ditched

David Sheard
David Sheard

Millions of pounds owed to Kirklees Council have been written off by the authority.

Debts of £8.1m which should have been repaid to the council during the 2012/13 financial year have been dropped.

Almost half the debt, £3.9m, was business rates, which were collected by the council on behalf of the government, meaning the council’s finances will not be impacted.

A report to Cabinet details the debts are due to a variety of reasons including bankruptcy and liquidation, death, and debts being written off on compassionate grounds.

And figures many include outstanding debt from previous years.

The council has written off housing revenue account (HRA) debts of £2m. HRA is mostly made up of council tenants’ rent payments and is used for management and maintenance of Kirklees’ council houses.

Last year, the HRA debt write off was £894,000.

A council spokeswoman said the rise was down to a review of money tenants owed to the council for repairs to their properties.

The council has written off council tax debt of £1.6m, down from £2.1m last year.

Debts of £200,000 were dropped in the customer and exchequer service, which deals with council tax and benefits.

The spokeswoman said a ‘relatively high’ percentage of the written off debt was owed by tenants who had been overpaid housing benefit. She said: “This is because the households affected are the least likely to be able to pay and this has to be a consideration in whatever recovery action takes place.”

Smaller debts were written off from the children and young people service, investment and regeneration, streetscene and housing, physical resources, support services and wellbeing and communities.

Coun David Sheard, joint Cabinet member for resources, said: “The council will seek to collect as much outstanding debt as possible as it is in the interests of local taxpayers that the council is run efficiently and cost effectively.

“On occasions debts are written off, but in all cases may be pursued in the future if new information comes to light.”