Praise for council's efforts to collect all its various debts

Councillors continue to be impressed by Northumberland's debt-recovery efforts, tackling everything from council tax and rents to major debtors such as NHS trusts.

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 27 February, 2016, 06:58
County Hall

The praise was unanimous from members of the county council’s economic growth and corporate services overview committee following an update on all debt issues from revenues and customer contact manager, Susan Mounsey.

So far this financial year, the council has written off a total of £600,000 of debt, which compares favourably to £2,7m in 2014/15, £2.2m in 2013/14 and £2.8m in 2012/13.

At January 31 this year, the authority was owed £14.3m in total, £6m of which was past its due date. At the same point last year, it was £12m, £6.5m of which was past due.

At January 31 this year, six customers had past due balances of more than £100,000, the likes of NHS bodies and other councils, representing about 62 per cent of the total debt.

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Coun Dave Ledger, deputy leader of the county council, said: “We are performing extremely well in terms of outcomes. We would prefer not to write off anything, but sometimes we have to.”

Referring to those who deliberately avoid payments, he added: “Some people have gone to prison and I’m not ashamed of saying that because they are depriving this authority of resources, which are scarce.”

Benchmarking data for 2014/15 showed that the council cleared 97 per cent of invoices within three months, against an average of 86 per cent across the contributing councils.