SENIOR Scottish Borders councillors have agreed to write-off unrecoverable debts of £133.5k owed to the local authority, with a warning that the figure is set to rise.

Members of the council’s decision-making Executive Committee endorsed the write-off for monies owed for the period from April 1 to September 30 last week, covering the areas of council tax (£66.9k), non-domestic rates (-£19.1), sundry debtors (£57.2k) and housing benefit overpayments (£26.5k) made.

Councillor Mark Rowley, the council executive member for service delivery and transformation, said: “This is always a really disappointing report to get because it measures finances that are lost to council spending.

“A note of caution. While everybody is starting to feel the pressure of increased energy costs, costs of fuel and food inflation, I think it will be some months hence before they start to come through in terms of debt problems and write-off to the council, so I suspect in a year’s time when we are looking at this report that, unfortunately, we’ll be seeing a significantly different picture.

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“But I think that officers need to be commended. £133,000 is a lot of money but in terms of the turnover and revenue of the council it is very modest.”

Kelso councillor Tom Weatherston added: “As long as I can give the public reassurance that all avenues have been explored to recover this debt, because people who pay feel aggrieved when they see debts written-off, then I am happy.”

In her report to the committee, Suzanne Douglas, the council’s acting chief financial officer, said: “In all cases, a debt will only be written off when at least one of the following occurs: legislation prevents its recovery; it is uneconomic to pursue; the debtor becomes insolvent and when all options of recovery have been exhausted, which includes the use of the council’s legal team and the appointed sheriffs officers, Walker Love.”