According to this story on the BBC – councils in wales wrote off over 8.5 million in business rates and 6.6m in council tax debt in the last financial year!

We’re based in Leeds but it will be the same story throughout the UK and its so annoying…

As a business owner who pays a rather large amount of tax it makes me cry to think that more wasn’t done to collect this money.

In all, welsh councils wrote-off over 32,000 individual council tax debts and over 3,000 individual business rate debts.

This will only be a small percentage of debts, in-fact the article suggests that 97% of debts are collected so I suppose that we’re looking at 3% who haven’t paid, but why should they get away with it? Surely there was more that they could have done?

Which debt collection agency did they use and in turn which debtor tracing company did the debt collection agency use? I would have loved to have had a go at tracing the debtors on this list. I’m pretty sure that I could have done it for a relatively small cost too.

Swansea even said a reason for writing off this debt was because they were unable to trace debtors?!? Well Swansea Council, I’ll lay it down for you, next year let us see how many we can trace for you, we’ll do it no find no fee so if I can’t put my money where my mouth is it won’t cost you a penny.

I’m so frustrated, we have a handful of forward thinking councils as clients, such as Burnley Council. However, convincing councils to come on board is a hard sell and I’m not sure why, when we guarantee all the results we provide. We’ll even make it cost effective to pursue the low value debt. Yet every year I have to read some councillor defending the amount of debt they have wrote off…

It’s ok Councillor Aaron Shotton, Welsh Local Government Association spokesperson for finance and resources, saying “Every year councils in Wales collect nearly £2bn in council tax and business rates.” But we want to know that everything was done to collect the rest of the money and if you have debtors that you were unable to locate and haven’t tried our service then you haven’t!

I’m sat here trying to grow my business happy to look at each and every case on a no trace no fee basis and it’s like pulling teeth with some of these councils.
Cardiff seem to be doing a little better

A Cardiff council spokesperson said: “The figure of £1.2m written off for council tax and £2.1m for business rates in 2012/13 is less than 1.5% of the monies we billed for during that year.

“As the capital city of Wales we are collecting over 98.5% of the amount of council tax and business rates that are billed in the city.

“Before writing off a payment, many of these debts are subject to court proceedings for non payment and bailiffs are widely used to help collect the tax.

“Writing off a debt is always the last resort for the council when all avenues have been explored including using tracing agents and insolvency action.”

All I’d say is bailiffs are not usually good at tracing people…we are!

Now, how do I fill in one of these freedom of information requests for Leeds City Council…

If you have any thoughts regarding this story or no of other instances like it please leave us a comment below.