Finance convenor Willie Young promised a “more proactive” pursuit of debtors after the local authority was forced to write off almost £183,000 last year.
Since 2010, the council has written off over £683,000 in unpaid business rates – increasingly from firms which have gone bust and can no longer be pursued for the money. They accounted for 82% of the “unrecoverable” business rates last year.
Young said part of the problem was caused by unscrupulous bosses using loopholes to shut down operations – and reopen quickly in a different guise. He suggested action was needed by the Scottish and UK governments and HM Revenue and Customs to clamp down on the problems. “We’ve got to be more pro-active. We cannot allow this to keep going.” Changes could include a “flagging-up system” to spot mounting debts “after six months rather than allowing it to go on for a year”.At the end of the day, people pay their taxes. We expect people to pay their council tax or business rates. There should not be any exceptions.”
In just five years, the total amount of business rates written off has soared from £20,804 to hit £683,117. In 2010/11, none of that was down to receivership or liquidation but it was £3,673 the next year, then £27,000, £28,000 and £95,000. The sums are on top of £771,657 in council tax which has been written off in the last ten years, despite recovery efforts.