Council attempts to collect debt

CONTROVERSIAL proposals to write-off housing benefit overpayments totalling more than £250,000 have been rejected . . . following a question from The Evening Star.

CONTROVERSIAL proposals to write-off housing benefit overpayments totalling more than £250,000 have been rejected . . . following a question from The Evening Star.

Ipswich council's executive committee decided to have one more attempt at recovering money which has been owed to the authority, in some cases since 2002.

The executive had been recommended to write-off the debts, which amount to three years' worth of bad debts, when it met on Tuesday evening.

However council leader Liz Harsant said an outside debt collection company might be able to raise some of the money owed.


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She said: “I was asked by the Star 'What kind of message does it send out if you write off these debts,' and I was left feeling that a lot of people in Ipswich would be concerned by that.

“We have to do all we can to get the money back that we were owed. I know we have been told that this money is irrecoverable but we have to make one more effort to try to get it back.

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“The officers will now be asked to look at the possibility of using a debt collection company and report back to us as soon as possible about whether that would be possible.

“It may be that it is still not possible to raise any more, but we owe it to those who do not abuse the system to make one last effort.”

The meeting was told that the bad debts were owed by people who had disappeared, gone to prison, died, or from whom there was no realistic chance of getting the money.

The individual amounts owed ranged from just 1p to more than £29,000 and the debt collection company will be asked to concentrate on trying to get money from those owing significant sums of money.

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