WARRINGTON Borough Council will write off around £204,000 in unpaid council tax, housing benefit overpayments and other debts.

The authority’s audit and corporate governance committee has noted the decision over the debt which has become ‘unrecoverable’.

This includes £577 of council tax, £55,637 of housing benefit overpayments and £148,156 of miscellaneous debts, a large proportion of which is debt that is over three years old.

The period covered is October 1 2019 to March 31 2020.

But overall council tax and business rate collection remains high in the town.

Annually, the authority collects around £200 million in council tax and business rates, along with collecting £73 million in miscellaneous income and £1.5 million in housing benefit overpayments.

However, there are circumstances where the council is unable to pursue an outstanding debt any further such as when the person owing the debt has died, has left the borough without trace or where a debt relief order has been granted.

Where such circumstances occur and all avenues of recovery have been exhausted, the debts are referred to the director of corporate services with a recommendation of writing off the debt.

Writing off unrecoverable debts is used as a last option by the council when all other methods of collection have been exhausted.

Lynton Green, the council’s deputy chief executive and director of corporate services, said: “The council maintains an excellent record of collecting a high proportion of council tax and other incomes but it is inevitable that occasionally we have to write off some debts.

“Residents should be reassured that we take every action available before writing off debts which it is no longer economical to pursue.”