More than £3m of debt is written off

COUNCIL leaders look set to write off more than £3m worth of debt owed to the local authority.

Executive members of Northumberland County Council are due to discuss next week the levels of debt written off during the current financial year – a total of £3,252,467.

A report to Tuesday’s meeting reveals that more than £1m has been written off from various service groups within the county council, including debts accrued by the former district councils before their amalgamation, such as nearly £380,000 covered by 556 invoices in Blyth Valley.

Among the debts now given up on are 41 of more than £5,000, including nearly £35,000 for building demolition and clearance in the former Castle Morpeth district.

The council has also written off £449,000 in council tax owed to it by 2,718 households, and £36,000 in court costs related to debt proceedings has also been written off.

Nearly £1m has been written off in non-domestic rates owed to the council by businesses that have either gone bankrupt or into liquidation, leaving them unable to pay their business rates.

Most of those debts are owed by pubs, factories or shops forced to close down as a result of economic difficulties, with the biggest debt of £66,000 being owed by a factory in Cramlington now in administration.

And in the last financial year, the council has also written off £625,000 in benefit overpayments – 1,615 council tax overpayments and 1,919 housing benefit overpayments.

Among the reasons for writing off money owed are that the debtor is bankrupt or in liquidation, cannot be traced or has died.