Council’s bad debts of £0.5m written off

Thursday April 11th 2019

Fairfield House

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

Nearly £500,000 in bad debts have been written off by council officers in Midlothian, where the local authority is facing a £7 million shortfall in its budget.

A paper presented to councillors in private this week outlined details of the debts which officers had been forced to write off.

Among the unpaid bills were more than £335,000 in unpaid council tax and housing benefit overpayments of £72,950.

They also wrote off outstanding bills for rent and other charges of more than £78,136.

Local authorities take decisions annually about debts which they can no longer pursue, often because the debtors are in sequestration or are deceased.

Many of the debts date back a number of years before they are cancelled.

The details of the money due were presented to councillors at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

Midlothian Council faces a budget shortfall of more than £7 million this year and has introduced a swathe of service reviews and cuts to try and close the gap.

At a meeting in February, hundreds of young people gathered outside the council’s Dalkeith headquarters to protest some proposed cuts to arts and creative services which would have seen instrumental music tuition axed, along with leisure centre and library closures.

Those cuts were rejected as protestors made their voices heard; however, the council approved a council tax rise of 4.79 per cent, increase in car parking charges, the closure of Vogrie golf course and an end to funding for community safety and healthy lifestyle teams to try and make savings.

It has also ordered a review of the number of denominational schools in the county, which currently has seven denominational primary schools and one secondary, all of which are Roman Catholic.

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