Finance chiefs defend decision to wipe out more than £250k of debt


FINANCE chiefs say Hartlepool Council has a “very good” collection rate of debt owed despite councillors agreeing to write off more than £250,000.

The finance and policy committee has agreed recommendations to write-off the “irrecoverable” business rate of £234,000, council tax of £7,000 and sundry debts £15,700.

Officers were keen to stress £225,143.94 of the business rates related to the Public Safety Charitable Trust and their occupation of properties on the Teesbay Retail Park. The Trust was placed into bankruptcy following a protracted legal process.

Finance bosses say “every effort” is made to collect money owed but sometimes they become irrecoverable if the company is dissolved or goes bankrupt.

The council currently bills and collects about £30.6m of business rates every year.

It annually collects around £37.8m of council tax covering more than 42,000 properties, with 97 per cent collected within the financial year it is billed.

The irrecoverable council tax debt was for those people that have either absconded or sadly died. The sundry debt included unpaid social care contributions.

Chris Little, chief finance officer, said: “For each of the areas we collect money for, we have a very good collection rate.

“Regarding the business rates, the vast bulk is run off against the national pool so there is no direct impact on the local authority.”