Cash-strapped council bosses in Leeds write off more than £3m of debts

Leeds Civic Hall.
Leeds Civic Hall.
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Leeds City Council has written off more than £3m of “irrecoverable” debts as it grapples with funding pressures that have put up to 2,000 jobs at risk.

Around £1.8m of the arrears related to unpaid business rates while £599,000 worth of council tax was also wiped from the slate.

We cannot stress strongly enough that we only write off any debt after exhausting every possible option, have found the cash to be unrecoverable and as a very last resort.

A Leeds City Council spokeswoman

A further £478,000 was owed to council departments such as adult social care, environment and neighbourhoods, children’s services and education.

And more than £235,000 of the total £3.1m figure related to what the council describes as “housing benefit overpayments”.

Council bosses warned last month that they could be forced to axe as many as 2,000 jobs in the next four years due to Government funding cuts.

A council spokeswoman said today: “We have an excellent record for council tax recovery, bringing in 99 per cent of what’s owed to us, which stands up very well against other big cities.

“This should also be seen in the context of the £670m in council tax and business rates debt we do succeed in chasing up each year.

“We also cannot stress strongly enough that we only write off any debt after exhausting every possible option, have found the cash to be unrecoverable and as a very last resort.

“In the case of business rates this is usually when a company has become insolvent or has no assets.

“For council tax the most common reason is because we cannot trace the debtor despite intense efforts.

“However, we use national tracing systems and will always redouble attempts to chase the payment should the debtor reappear.”

The written-off council tax and business rate debts were deemed irrecoverable between October 2015 and the end of March, although the majority were run up during previous financial years.

The other sums involved were deemed irrecoverable between April 2015 and the end of March but again mostly relate to invoices that were raised prior to that period.

Nearly £70,000 of the written-off council tax was due to cancellations agreed as part of flood relief efforts.

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HOW IT ALL ADDS UP FOR THE COUNCIL

THE WRITTEN-off council tax and business rate debts were deemed irrecoverable between October 2015 and the end of March, although the majority were run up during previous financial years.

The other sums involved were deemed irrecoverable between April 2015 and the end of March but again mostly relate to invoices that were raised prior to that period. Nearly £70,000 of the written-off council tax was due to cancellations agreed as part of flood relief efforts.

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