Figures show £2.8m is owed to Kirklees Council by people who have needed council care but were unable to pay immediately.
But it’s uncertain when the council will re-coup the money after it was revealed £1m of it is owed by people who have now died.
The council, like all others, allow deferred payments to cover care costs for people with their own homes but no savings.
Clr Andrew Pinnock, Cleckheaton Lib Dem, asked in questions to Cabinet members at Kirklees Full Council how much money the council was owed in deferred payments for social care.
Clr Molly Walton, Cabinet member for adults, outlined the issues.
She said there were 285 deferred payment agreements on the books and 98 of those had died owing part of their payment.
Clr Walton, pictured, explained: “Deferred payments in social care is when somebody has a home or is capital rich but they don’t have the revenue to be able to pay for the cost of their long-term care.
“Estimates are made and it’s put against the value of their property to stop them having to sell their home to pay for their care when they are ill.
“We have 285 people on the books and 98 of those have died owing part of their deferred payment.
“It’s £2.8m in total that is owed and just over £1m is from people who have died.
“It can be quite difficult sometimes. I have dealt with a couple of cases – one who lived in my ward but the family lived away. You have then got to bring them back to sell the property.”
Clr Walton explained that often people were unable to sell homes due to the tough housing market, which put a hold on the council getting their money.
The Labour ward member for Crosland Moor and Netherton added: “We do know how much people owe us and we do follow it up and make sure we get paid.
“Recently a Lindley family was unable to see their property because of the poor market. There’s not a lot we can do – we can’t force people to buy homes.”
Clr Pinnock asked Clr Walton if she was satisfied with the time limit.
Clr Walton said they allowed 56 days before chasing people up and that council audits made sure people were aware of how much they owed.
“This is the reality of the situation,” Clr Walton said. “We do follow it up rigorously.
“It does seem like dead money at a time when we need every penny we can get in social care.
“But I’m glad we have this policy because we do get the money back eventually and it can be a worry for people who are will and haven’t got the money to pay right away.
“It eases the pressure on them a bit.”