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Unpaid council tax and business rate write-offs plunge in Worcester
THE amount of council tax and business rates written-off in Worcester has plunged 43 per cent in a year, it has emerged.
Worcester City Council has produced a remarkable turnaround in bad debt after launching an action plan to tackle it.
New data seen by your Worcester News revealed how £206,000 was written off in the first nine months of the current financial year, compared to a whopping £363,000 during the same period in 2012.
The authority, which had previously come under fire for writing off more than £1 million in unpaid taxes in just two years, now says it wants to bring the tally down further.
A report on the debts, which compares April-December 2013 compared to the same period in 2012, shows how the individual write-off cases have also plunged from 240 to 189.
Councillor Richard Boorn, cabinet member for finance, said: "When I wasn't in the cabinet this was something I took great interest in, I found it unacceptable because ultimately, those that do pay end up subsidising those that don't.
"I found that the majority of the write-offs were on businesses so we looked very carefully at how the council was dealing with that.
"We didn't want to be overly aggressive, when we saw problems we'd approach them and say 'let's see if we can help' and come up with a payment plan.
"By giving them a bit of breathing space it can stop them from going under and help us all."
In 2011/12 a total of £297,000 was written-off, and in 2010/11 it hit £760,000 after the council decided to lump together an historic list of unpaid taxes.
The figures, which were heavily criticised, led to an an action plan being created to bring it down.
Reasons for people not paying council tax can vary, but it can include residents moving away, householders dying, and those who refuse to pay, who are liable to be prosecuted.
Although the exact reasons for each write-off is never made public, most business write-offs are down to the firms going bust.
The write-off means all the relevant bodies which benefit from taxes and business rates take a hit on their balance sheets - including the city council, fire and police services, and County Hall.
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