Nearly £100,000 of unpaid council tax and business rates to be written-off

West Suffolk House (Council Offices) in Bury.

West Suffolk House (Council Offices) in Bury. - Credit: Archant

Nearly £100,000 of outstanding council tax and business rates debt is expected to be written-off by West Suffolk Council.

Councillors will decide whether to wipe out £6,812.30 in unpaid council tax and £88,915.33 in business rates which cannot be collected at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

The council said "extensive recovery procedures are in place" to collect the money, but it is not always possible due to different factors.

The council currently uses the services of the ARP Enforcement Agency to assist in the collection of business rates and council tax and also has online tracing facilities.

Sarah Broughton, West Suffolk Council's cabinet member for resources and performance, said the council "makes every effort to collect or recover" outstanding council tax and business rates.

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"As at June 30, 2019, the percentage of debt written off during 2019/20 for all previous years is 0.014% (council tax) and 0.18% (business rates). No write-offs have yet been made against debts for 2019/20," she said.

"The council makes every effort to collect or recover outstanding council tax and business rates which the vast majority of people pay on time and help fund services delivered to our communities.

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"Unfortunately, there are times when this is not always possible, such as when people become bankrupt or businesses go into liquidation.

"But even if the debt is written off and is no longer being actively pursued, it is still possible if circumstances change to write the debt back on and take action to recover it."

The report to councillors recommended that the debt be written-off but echoed that it is still possible for the amount to be written back on.

"It should be noted that in the event that a written-off debt becomes recoverable, the amount is written back on, and enforcement procedures are re-established," the report read.

"This might happen, for example, if someone has gone away with no trace, and then they are unexpectedly 'found' again, through whatever route.

"Writing off uncollectable debt allows staff to focus recovery action on debt which is recoverable."

The council cabinet will meet on Tuesday at West Suffolk House in Bury St Edmunds.

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