Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: No
Report agreed. It is recommended that the amounts set out in the attached schedule should be written off as irrecoverable.
Before debts are submitted for write-off they go through a stringent process within the office and each debt has to be:
• Investigated and allocated a reason for write-off and supported with appropriate information and/or paperwork
• Considered by at least two managers
• Has to have undergone a minimum of checks
The process used is the subject of audit scrutiny, and has been found to be entirely satisfactory.
The Director of Corporate Affairs is authorised to write off irrecoverable debts due to the Council up to a limit of £500 in each case, larger sums being referred to the Cabinet Member for Resources.
To continue with the collection process was not considered to be appropriate in the following situations:
• In some cases it is not possible to pursue collection as the claimant cannot be traced, has died, the balance is uneconomical to collect, they are now bankrupt or the legal section have recommended that recovery action is not possible.
• In other cases, the Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit Regulations provide that recovery action should not be considered if ‘official error’ contributed to the overpayment and the claimant would not have known they were being overpaid. The Council currently receives 100% government subsidy for these overpayments due to operating within thresholds set by the Department of Work and Pensions.
• Regulations provide that recovery shall not be taken if a higher authority such as the Appeals Tribunal has determined that the claimant is not liable for the overpayment.
• Recovery cannot proceed where debt has become statute barred or cannot be enforced because it is too old.
• The circumstances of the case or the customer make it unsuitable that collection continues.
Publication date: 02/06/2021
Date of decision: 02/06/2021