£110,000 in council tax debts and housing benefit overpayments to be written off

Council tax debts and housing benefit overpayments totalling more than £110,000 are to be written off in Cannock Chase.

The council's cabinet members agreed to the write-offs at their latest meeting.

There were 16 benefit overpayment debts totalling £76,987.50 and 21 council tax cases totalling £36,716.39 deemed “irrecoverable”.

A cabinet report on the collection of revenues and benefits between April and June this year revealed that 27.8 per cent of the £60.4m council tax due for the current year had been collected by the end of June. This was lightly less than last year’s level of 28 per cent during the same period.

There is also £37.4m in business rates due for the current year, of which 24 per cent was collected by the end of June. This was also less than last year’s level of 26.2 per cent by the end of June.

The report said: “Efficient collection of the council’s revenues is of major importance to the funding of council services and those provided by our preceptors. Whilst our collection rates are traditionally good, regrettably not all of the monies owed to the council can be collected.

“In accordance with the council’s approved policies, all reasonable and lawful attempts are made to recover all amounts due. In the first instance this involves the issue of bills, reminders and final notices, followed by Summonses in the Magistrates Court where the warning notices are not effective.

“At all stages of this process, debtors are encouraged to engage in voluntary arrangements to repay their arrears, to prevent the need for formal action. For any of our powers to be effective we need to know the whereabouts of a debtor, and this is not always the case."

The report added: “Where debtors abscond, we will use all reasonable endeavours to trace them and are often successful in doing so. Unfortunately, on occasions this is not so and we must submit a debt for write off.

“The cost of collecting the debts has been considered as part of the decision to put them forward for write off. If further information does come forward about the whereabouts of any of the individual debtors, the council will pursue recovery action.”

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