Cannock council writes off debts and benefit overpayments totalling £247,000

Cannock Chase Council is writing off debts and benefit overpayments totalling almost a quarter of a million pounds after it was unable to recover the funds.

Cannock Chase District Council
Cannock Chase District Council

The write-offs, agreed by the authority’s cabinet this month, include 10 business rate debts worth £127,003 and 48 “irrecoverable” council tax debts totalling £120,163.

A report to the cabinet said there had been a slight decrease in the level of council tax collected for the current year by the end of September, which was 54.1 per cent, compared to the 54.6 per cent collected by the end of September 2021.

But there was a higher proportion of business rates collected by the end of September – 56.6 per cent – compared to the September 2021 level of 47.8 per cent.

The report added: “Whilst our collection rates are traditionally good, regrettably not all of the monies owed to the council can be collected.

"Council tax due for the current year amounts to £60.5m and we would hope to collect in the region of 97.5 per cent within the year, as was the case prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The knock-on effect of underpayments during the past two years, in which collection rates of 96 per cent and 96.2 per cent were achieved, the current economic climate and the need for revenues staff to continue to manage Council Tax Energy Rebate awards, will add to the difficulty in achieving this target in the current year.

"Action will continue to collect arrears after the end of the financial year, with around 99 per cent traditionally being recovered.”

Cabinet members also agreed to write off 14 irrecoverable housing benefit overpayments worth £44,230 at their latest meeting.

Otherwise recovery of overpaid housing benefit “continues to progress well”, the report said, with £153,636 collected into the council’s general fund during the first half of the current year.

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