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Cannock Chase District Council writes off £175,000 in 'irrecoverable' debts

More business rates have been collected in Cannock Chase this year compared to 12 months ago – but the district council has written off more than £175,000 in “irrecoverable” debts.

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Cannock Chase District Council

Cabinet members at Cannock Chase Council also agreed to write off 16 council tax debts totalling £60,288.88 and three housing benefit overpayments amounting to £23,450.30 which were also considered irrecoverable at their latest meeting on Thursday.

The latest revenue and benefits collection report revealed that by the end of December 80.5 per cent of council tax due for the 2022/23 financial year had been collected. This was less than the 81.1 per cent collected during the same period in 2021/22.

The report added: “Council tax is collected on behalf of the district council, parish councils and our major preceptors (Staffordshire County Council and Commissioner for Police, Crime, Fire and Rescue). The effect of the collection fund arrangements means that Cannock Chase Council retains around 12.4 per cent of the council tax collected.

“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 and this report contains a recommendation to write off bad debts which cannot be recovered.

News that the authority had collected 81 per cent of business rates due for the current year by the end of December – compared to 74.1 per cent by the end of December 2021 – was welcomed by cabinet members however. The cabinet report said: “This represents an increase on last year’s performance which seems to indicate some upturn in the local economy and is more in line with the 79.7 per cent achieved in the same period of 2019.”

Council leader Olivia Lyons said: “I think we have got to see this in light of the pandemic and the current cost of living crisis – it is good to see the improvement in business collection rate.”

Councillor Justin Johnson added: “It seems it is going in the right direction.”

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