Dumbarton from the air overlooking Bellsmyre, Garshake, Barloan and Bonhill. Picture by Sean Davenport
By Rory Murphy
Councillors have agreed to write off irrecoverable debts owed to the Council after exhausting all avenues for collection.
This comes after criticism that they were using Sheriff Officers to collect outstanding sums of money from struggling families even during the pandemic.
The money includes uncollectable miscellaneous debt of £83,000 dating back to 2017, of which more than £15,000 is due by residents who died with no estate to pay the money. A further £42,000 of the sum outstanding was deemed untraceable with £25,000 owed by residents or organisations for a range of Council services.
Members agreed to write off £174,000 of non domestic business rates dating back to 2013. More than £78,000 is as a result of businesses being dissolved and no longer trading and £63,000 for firms going into Administration. A further £12,000 was written off due to liquidation and £19,000 deemed irrecoverable after being with Sherriff Officers for collection.
Last year the Council’s Corporate Debt team collected £14.8m of £18.5m of annual miscellaneous debts and £73.7 of £75.2m non domestic rates within the financial year.
Councillor Ian Dickson, pictured left, Chair of Corporate Services, said: “The Council pursues all outstanding debt through the Corporate Debt Team which takes appropriate action to recover money owed through various means available including using Debt Management Partners to help trace individuals and businesses. We also provide support to anyone struggling to pay, and a range of options to assist, once all avenues have been exhausted, the debt is passed for sheriff officer involvement.”
Councillor Iain McLaren, Vice Chair of Corporate services, said: “Our staff work tirelessly to ensure all public monies owed to the Council are collected where possible. Some of these debts go back more than 20 years and despite our best efforts, they are now deemed irrecoverable.
“It is the view of officers that these debts will not be recovered and should be written-off. If any new information comes to light, the Council will actively pursue this debt.”
The Council had no comment to make to The Democrat.