Issue - meetings

Corporate Debt Recovery Policy and Write-Off Policy

Meeting: 05/09/2017 - Cabinet (Item 404)

404 Corporate Debt Recovery Policy and Write-Off Policy pdf icon PDF 62 KB

The Cabinet is requested to consider the agenda report and to make the following resolution that:


The updated Corporate Debt Recovery Policy and new Write-off Policy be approved.

Additional documents:




That the updated Corporate Debt Recovery Policy and new Write-off Policy be approved.


The Cabinet received and considered the agenda report and its two appendices in the agenda supplement (copies attached to the official minutes).


The report was presented by Mrs Hardwick.


Mrs Belenger was in attendance for this item.


Mrs Hardwick referred to the origins of the policy in the 2014 legislation dealing with corporate debt recovery and how the policy had first been approved in 2014 with an aim to make CDC’s recovery work consistent and co-ordinated.  The report proposed a refresh of that policy in order to bring it up to date (car park debt was not included). There was also a new write-off policy aimed at clarifying CDC’s approach in that regard.


At Mrs Hardwick’s invitation Mrs Belenger explained there was an error in para 3.5 of the report in relation to the figures shown for the debts written off  in 2016-17 and 2015-16 . She said the figure of £686,944 ’ in the second line should read ‘ £570,207 (2016-17) and £753,443 for 2015-16 should read £623,896. With changes to the figures in the table relating to business rates including costs should be £903,000 and council tax including costs should be £2,152,000, as the figures originally reported only showed the provisions held for the council, and should have included the amounts held on behalf of the other major preceptors (West Sussex County Council, Police and Fire Authority), the total sum held was in fact ‘£5,551m’. She drew attention to the scheme of delegation in the new write off policy in appendix 2 (page 12 of the agenda supplement).


Mrs Belenger and Mr Ward responded to questions by Mr Dignum about the policy for adding to a provision and the justification for the size of the provisions.    




The Cabinet voted unanimously on a show of hands in favour of making the resolution set out below.




That the updated Corporate Debt Recovery Policy and new Write-off Policy be approved.


Meeting: 29/06/2017 - Corporate Governance & Audit Committee (Item 133)

133 Corporate Debt Recovery Policy and Write-Off Policy pdf icon PDF 59 KB

To consider the updated Corporate Debt Recovery Policy and new Write-off Policy and recommend them to Cabinet for approval.

Additional documents:


The committee considered the report in the agenda (copy attached to the official minutes).


Mrs Belenger introduced the report, drawing members’ attention to one of the actions from the Estates report at the last meeting which was to develop a Write-off Policy hence this report which included an amended Corporate Debt Recovery Policy. This was a coordinated approach to dealing with those who had debts with the Council, specifically those who had multiple debts. This debt recovery policy had been updated and the Communities team had been consulted for their views on financial inclusion and to incorporate a definition of a ‘vulnerable person’. The policy contained minor procedural changes and governance arrangements but no changes of a financial management nature.


The Constitution sets out the delegation to the Head of Finance & Governance (Section 151 officer) to write off any debts considered to be irrecoverable. The write off policy was setting out a scheme of delegation agreed by the Head of Finance & Governance which allows specific officers to write off smaller irrecoverable debts. The Write-off Policy sets out what determines a justifiable reason to write off an irrecoverable debt and the procedure to manage this process.


The Corporate Debt Recovery Policy with track changes was available to those who wanted to refer to it.


Corporate debt Policy

·         Some members thought that there was a lack of clarity as a policy document and suggested that the primary aim on page 10 could be made clearer by perhaps being set out under four headings e.g. promptness, fairness, facilitating process and a coordinated approach.

·         More information on financial inclusion would be included from colleagues when their work on this is finalised. A light touch approach had been carried out this time and further amendments would be included with the next review of the policy.

·         Page 11, third para under Arrangements for repayment of arrears - the ‘consequences with a view to minimising the effects’ section to be reworded slightly to read ‘the potential consequences of non-payment of the debt’.

·         Page 11 - the final bullet point should be split into two.

·         An annual report on write-offs is published to the library.

·         Accountancy assess the adequacy of the bad debt provisions required for debts owed to the council, such as housing benefit overpayments during the budget cycle and final accounts processes. The top 10 debtors of the Council are reported to Mr Ward as S151 Officer and aged debts reports are looked at on a quarterly basis.

·         It is not down to the service to approve a write off as it is the Revenue  recovery teams view to recommend any write offs to Mr Ward after consultation with the Exchequer and Legal Services. Council Tax and Business Rates debts are considered by the Revenues Manager. All write-offs under the scheme of delegation will be reported to Mr Ward who will have oversight of the entire process.

·         Page 14 – amend ‘people who appear to have mental health issues…’ to ‘people who may have mental  ...  view the full minutes text for item 133