Falkirk Council writes off £1/2 million of debt

Falkirk Council has written off more than �640,000 in debts
Falkirk Council has written off more than �640,000 in debts

Debts of over £640,000 have been wiped out by Falkirk Council’s bean counters as they work to balance the books.

Councillors agreed to the move at a meeting in March, although the decision was taken in private and has only now come to light.

However, the council said the figure for 2013/14 is lower than in the previous 12 months.

It blamed bankruptcies among individuals and businesses being unable to pay debts, including council tax, non-domestic rates and housing benefit overpayments.

The largest figure was £437,704 in unpaid non-domestic rates, although as this is collected on behalf of the Scottish Government, the cost of the debt being written-off is not borne directly by the council.

A council spokesman said: “Where high value debt over £5000 has been written-off, the majority of the debtors, both individuals and organisations, have entered into some sort form of bankruptcy arrangements that legally prevents us from taking action to recover the debt.

“In all other cases, where we later identify that the debt has become recoverable, then we will pursue them for payment.”

He added the local authority realised that times were still “challenging” for people and they offered support to individuals and businesses.

Angus MacDonald, Falkirk East MSP, said the figures gave cause for concern and it was hoped new legislation would help those with debts.

He said: “It was passed unanimously by MSPs and will help introduce a ‘financial health service’ for Scotland, providing a modern system of debt advice and debt management.

“The Bankruptcy and Debt Advice (Scotland) Bill is designed to balance the rights of those in debt with the needs of creditors and businesses.”