Thousands of pounds owed to district council in unpaid tax and rates is written off

Uttlesford District Council

Uttlesford District Council - Credit: Archant

Nearly £250,000 worth of debt owed to Uttlesford District Council (UDC) has been written off by the administration in the past year.

In the financial year 2018/2019, the total value of money owed which has been written off by the authority was £241,469, according to a report prepared for district councillors.

Of this total, "£157,379 has a direct financial impact on the council", according to Angela Knight, assistant director of resources at the council and author of the report, which will go before the council's cabinet on Monday.

The report explains that the uncollected money relates to business rates, Council Tax, housing benefit, housing rents and sundry debtors, adding: "All of the amounts written off have been through the council's recovery process and proved to be unrecoverable or unecomical to pursue any further."

The total sum of write offs in 2017/2018 was £254,884, meaning the sum for this year has fallen by £13,415.

The amount the council is owed in overpaid benefits has nearly doubled, from £41,885 in 2017/2018 to £80,504. However, there was a sharp fall in amount owed in unpaid Council Tax, from £107,110 to £70,626.

UDC has the highest collection rate for Council Tax in Essex at 99.14 per cent, ranked the seventh highest in England - though it still missed out on thousands of pounds.

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Similarly, the amount owed to the council in business rates nearly halved, from £60,672 to £33,033. The report notes that the council is seventh in Essex for business rates, with a collection rate of 98.80 per cent.

For both Council Tax and business rates, UDC only bears the financial impact of its share, which is at nine per cent and 40 per cent respectively. This explains why the total amount written off is a higher figure than the amount which has a "direct" financial impact on the council.

Elsewhere, the council has written of £56,153 in housing rent, up from £42,082 and £1,152 from sundry debtors, down from £3,135.

The report said: "The council is committed to support residents who are vulnerable and/or on a low income by offering early intervention support in managing their personal budgets and provide assistance with outstanding arrears."

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