Millions of pounds in lost rents, council tax and business rates has been written off.
Kirklees Council wrote off £7.4m of ‘bad debts’ between April 2013 and March this year, the council has announced.
By comparison, in 2012/13 the council stopped pursuing £8.1m in debt.
Unpaid rent accounts for the majority of this year’s lost revenue (£4.5m), followed by unpaid council tax (£1.4m) and unpaid business rates (£890,105).
Over half the debts (£3.9m) were dropped because it was ‘not viable to pursue’ them, usually because of the costs involved.
A further £1.3m was lost because of a law limiting the time in which an organisation can recover its debts to six years.
Approximately £1.2m was lost to bankruptcy and liquidation while over £877,000 was lost to individuals who had disappeared.
Other debts were declared void on compassionate grounds or because an individual had died.
Councils are able to recover unpaid debts through reminders, instigating insolvency hearings and court orders.
Cash can be recovered directly from a debtor’s earnings or by placing a charging order on his/her properties, or via bailiffs.
Kirklees Council has a fund for covering bad debts to avoid damage to other council services.
Kirklees cabinet member for resources, Clr Graham Turner, said: “Unfortunately there will always be a minority of households and businesses who don’t pay their council tax and business rates on time but Kirklees has a good record of taking strong recovery action to address this problem to make sure the local tax system is fair to everyone.
“Debts are only written off if it appears that the recovery process will cost more than the debt itself or the debtor cannot be traced.
“We are mindful that some of the amount written off relates to housing benefit overpayment to those who are the least able to pay, and ability to pay has to be a consideration.
“These debtors must be considered differently to those who can pay but refuse to do so.
“However, if new information is received that the circumstances of a debtor has changed, then it is possible that the debt will be pursued in the future.”
A report on Kirklees Council’s bad debt will be presented to Kirklees cabinet on August 26.