Debts of £773,000 written off by council

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The leader of Crawley Borough Council, Cllr Howard Bloom, has written off more than three quarters of a million pounds worth of irrecoverable debts.

The debts totalling £773,452 were accrued during the 2013/14 financial year and the majority (£739,744) related to unpaid business rates.

They include three pubs, three former tenants’ rent arrears and four overpayments of housing benefit and range from £2,845.99 to £45,329.67.

A council spokesman said: “The council collects around £105m of business Rates every year so the irrecoverable debt is less than one per cent of the total.

“There are a number of reasons but the most common is company liquidation or administration. Other reasons include bankruptcy or, rarely, debtors absconding.

“The council takes early action when an account has gone into arrears. The first step is generally contacting the debtor and setting up an arrangement to pay. Sometimes this is not possible or the agreement is not kept; in this instance the council will take legal action which can include starting bankruptcy proceedings. It is an inevitability that some companies will become insolvent and the money is irretrievable.”