MORE than £200,000 of debt has been written off by the council in the first six months of the new financial year, official papers show.

The local authority’s executive committee met on Tuesday (January 18) to discuss the lost arrears.

According to a Scottish Borders Council (SBC) report published ahead of the virtual gathering, the total value of write-offs between April 1 and September 30 last year was just over £212,000.

In the same period during the previous year, around £371,000 was written off.

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The papers state: “It is expected that the level of debts written off in 2021/22 in some areas will vary as they are still being affected by heightened risk factors, particularly COVID-19.

“Performance in this area continues to be closely monitored and management action, including the approved policy on debt recovery and supporting procedures, are in place to minimise risk.

“The council maintains an appropriate bad debt provision to help manage these risks.”

According to SBC, a debt will only be written off when legislation prevents its recovery; it is uneconomic to pursue; the debtor becomes insolvent; all options of recovery have been exhausted; and/or a professional assessment of the debt concludes that recovery is unlikely.

Council tax represents the largest proportion of uncollected arrears between April and September with around £137,000 written off.

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Around £142,000 was crossed out during the same period in 2020.

A significant difference between the six-month periods comes with write-offs for non-domestic rates, the papers show.

Zero were recorded in the first six months of this financial year, whereas more than £141,000 was written off during that time frame in 2020.

The report states: “Much of the resource which would normally deal with this work has been highly involved in business grants and other COVID-19 related work which remains ongoing.

“That together with temporary new reliefs introduced over the past year means we would not expect write-off levels to exceed those reached in 2020/21.”

Sundry debt figures – broken into the categories: deceased; gone away; bankruptcy; uneconomic to pursue; sheriff officer unable to collect; and time barred – show that around £58,000 was written off in the first six months of the financial year. That is up on the £32,000 seen in that period in 2020.