Council set to write off nearly half a million pounds of debt

Council set to write off nearly half a million pounds of debt

TOUGH AT THE TOP: Chief financial officer Paul Kent

WRITING OFF DEBTS: The county council’s head of community services Paul Leivers

First published in News Dorset Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter

ALMOST £12m is owed to Dorset County Council – but the authority has decided to write off hundreds of thousands of pounds of the debt.

Debtors include academy schools, departments within the council – and thousands of residents who haven’t paid library fines.

And because the majority of what is owed is ‘young debt’, it ‘should not be considered as a problem’, councillors will be told at a meeting tomorrow.

Around £68,000 is owed for overdue books.

The maximum library fine is set at £12 and going on this figure, it means 5,700 people have fines to pay. But the library department has now agreed to wipe off debts over four years old.

DCC has also agreed to write off around £450,000 of debt incurred by departments such as Children’s Services, Environment and Corporate Resources.

A report for the Audit and Scrutiny Committee shows that on March 31 this year, more than £1m had been outstanding for over a year. But more than £8m was outstanding for 30 days or less, meaning it is ‘young debt’.

And this, according to report author Paul Kent, director of resources, means it shouldn’t be considered a problem. But committee vice chairman Mike Byatt, disagrees.

He said: “Any budget deficit is a concern.

It is money lost that could be used for the provision of services.

“It is right and proper we scrutinise why this has happened and it’s not okay to just say ‘these things happen’ and ‘there’s not much we can do about it’ – that’s not good enough.”

Cllr Byatt added: “This is a very unsatisfactory situation when public services are overstretched.

“The council is not securing the money that it should secure by writing off money that could be recouped for the provision of services.”

Although DCC managed to get the total sum owed down to £7m in 2012/13, it has crept up to £11.988m in the last financial year.

The report says the increase in debt is due to costs incurred by the Dorset Waste Partnership Phase 2, academy schools and a £6.2m bill to the NHS which has now been paid in full.

Mr Kent says: ‘Debts can only be written off if approved by the chief financial officer, or an officer with delegated authority, in this case, the head of internal audit.

‘In every case, the service needs to prove a written explanation to support the request for a write-off, together with an explanation of how similar write-offs will be avoided in the future.’ He adds that ‘new processes’ have been put in place to avoid debts from Adult Services and old payroll debts in the future.

Unpaid library fines

The county council’s head of community services Paul Leivers said: “The library service has a process in place to recover overdue items and charges.

“There are over 2 million items being loaned each year and the majority of users return items and pay any applicable overdue or hire charges for DVDs.

“However a small proportion of these overdue charges or hire charges are not paid. The outstanding monies owed are mainly low value debts with the average debt being £9.

“The total amount written off in 2013-14 was £18,000. This relates to sums owing which were over four years old and are deemed to be unrecoverable.

“To put this into context, the total amount of library fines and fees for 2013-14 was £217,000.

“The value of unpaid fines-fees at the end of 2013-14 was £68,000 and much of this will be paid by the service users on subsequent visits to the library and recovered where possible.”

Approved

The following amounts have been approved for write-off in 2013-14:

  • Children’s Services £34,025.18
  • Environment £8,317.02 PENDING - £6,912.56
  • Adult & Community (in DES) £176,893.86 PENDING - £1,417.51
  • Adult & Community Services (not in DES) £93,412.10
  • Corporate resources £93,110.70
  • Other £48,798.81

Comments (34)

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9:26am Mon 21 Jul 14

MrTomSmith says...

And so when are the heads of these departments, who pick up 70K + a year going to made accountable for not running their section correctly? Its now good blaming the system all the time, get someone in, who can change the system to make it work correctly. Those being employed now, at the top, obviously can't do it.
And so when are the heads of these departments, who pick up 70K + a year going to made accountable for not running their section correctly? Its now good blaming the system all the time, get someone in, who can change the system to make it work correctly. Those being employed now, at the top, obviously can't do it. MrTomSmith
  • Score: 22

9:37am Mon 21 Jul 14

mr commonsense says...

Why should we be surprised? If these heads of departments had shares in their Company, no stone would be unturned, however this isn't their money so it is easy to write it off.
I would take every step to recover the cash even if it had a significant cost in recovering it. That way we the taxpayers would see our Council as acting in our best interests but this won't happen as they will take the easy way out. Disgraceful .
Why should we be surprised? If these heads of departments had shares in their Company, no stone would be unturned, however this isn't their money so it is easy to write it off. I would take every step to recover the cash even if it had a significant cost in recovering it. That way we the taxpayers would see our Council as acting in our best interests but this won't happen as they will take the easy way out. Disgraceful . mr commonsense
  • Score: 19

9:51am Mon 21 Jul 14

MrTomSmith says...

Oh and Library books is not difficult you take a £10 Deposit when you join and you get back when you leave.
Oh and Library books is not difficult you take a £10 Deposit when you join and you get back when you leave. MrTomSmith
  • Score: 12

10:01am Mon 21 Jul 14

annotater says...

MrTomSmith wrote:
Oh and Library books is not difficult you take a £10 Deposit when you join and you get back when you leave.
Too complicated to run and not enough responsible people to look after the cash. Name, address, and proof of councill tax payments with an authority to charge the household for any loss of books etc is all that is required. If they default, charge the council tax. If they don't pay council tax, don't lend them any books.
[quote][p][bold]MrTomSmith[/bold] wrote: Oh and Library books is not difficult you take a £10 Deposit when you join and you get back when you leave.[/p][/quote]Too complicated to run and not enough responsible people to look after the cash. Name, address, and proof of councill tax payments with an authority to charge the household for any loss of books etc is all that is required. If they default, charge the council tax. If they don't pay council tax, don't lend them any books. annotater
  • Score: 5

10:06am Mon 21 Jul 14

MrTomSmith says...

annotater wrote:
MrTomSmith wrote:
Oh and Library books is not difficult you take a £10 Deposit when you join and you get back when you leave.
Too complicated to run and not enough responsible people to look after the cash. Name, address, and proof of councill tax payments with an authority to charge the household for any loss of books etc is all that is required. If they default, charge the council tax. If they don't pay council tax, don't lend them any books.
Same Same Different.
[quote][p][bold]annotater[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]MrTomSmith[/bold] wrote: Oh and Library books is not difficult you take a £10 Deposit when you join and you get back when you leave.[/p][/quote]Too complicated to run and not enough responsible people to look after the cash. Name, address, and proof of councill tax payments with an authority to charge the household for any loss of books etc is all that is required. If they default, charge the council tax. If they don't pay council tax, don't lend them any books.[/p][/quote]Same Same Different. MrTomSmith
  • Score: 3

11:04am Mon 21 Jul 14

dkh says...

MrTomSmith wrote:
annotater wrote:
MrTomSmith wrote:
Oh and Library books is not difficult you take a £10 Deposit when you join and you get back when you leave.
Too complicated to run and not enough responsible people to look after the cash. Name, address, and proof of councill tax payments with an authority to charge the household for any loss of books etc is all that is required. If they default, charge the council tax. If they don't pay council tax, don't lend them any books.
Same Same Different.
As many OAP, disabled and of course unemployed do not pay council tax would you deny them access to libraries? Therefore only the workers could use a library, and as they are only open when most are at work they wouldn't get used and therefore get shut. You will never devise a perfect system if you charge then many of the library users will not use the service, thereby returning them to being at risk of closure. The current system is far from perfect but short of employing the "heavies" to call round and request "can we have our books back" (which I do not suggest as being any good) this system is the best we have
[quote][p][bold]MrTomSmith[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]annotater[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]MrTomSmith[/bold] wrote: Oh and Library books is not difficult you take a £10 Deposit when you join and you get back when you leave.[/p][/quote]Too complicated to run and not enough responsible people to look after the cash. Name, address, and proof of councill tax payments with an authority to charge the household for any loss of books etc is all that is required. If they default, charge the council tax. If they don't pay council tax, don't lend them any books.[/p][/quote]Same Same Different.[/p][/quote]As many OAP, disabled and of course unemployed do not pay council tax would you deny them access to libraries? Therefore only the workers could use a library, and as they are only open when most are at work they wouldn't get used and therefore get shut. You will never devise a perfect system if you charge then many of the library users will not use the service, thereby returning them to being at risk of closure. The current system is far from perfect but short of employing the "heavies" to call round and request "can we have our books back" (which I do not suggest as being any good) this system is the best we have dkh
  • Score: 1

11:35am Mon 21 Jul 14

Sally MacLennane says...

Sensible. Guessing that debt will cost more to get that it would actually gain,.
Sensible. Guessing that debt will cost more to get that it would actually gain,. Sally MacLennane
  • Score: 5

11:38am Mon 21 Jul 14

tarka says...

WHAT IS THEIR DEFINITION OF WRITE OFF.
Are they telling us they do not require this dept and can maintain services without it or will they be transferring it to a council tax increase for honest bill paying public to repay ??
WHAT IS THEIR DEFINITION OF WRITE OFF. Are they telling us they do not require this dept and can maintain services without it or will they be transferring it to a council tax increase for honest bill paying public to repay ?? tarka
  • Score: -2

11:58am Mon 21 Jul 14

JamesYoung says...

annotater wrote:
MrTomSmith wrote:
Oh and Library books is not difficult you take a £10 Deposit when you join and you get back when you leave.
Too complicated to run and not enough responsible people to look after the cash. Name, address, and proof of councill tax payments with an authority to charge the household for any loss of books etc is all that is required. If they default, charge the council tax. If they don't pay council tax, don't lend them any books.
There are no easy answers here. Tom's idea, in principle, is easier to administer and doesn't require piles of administrative work to set up an account. However, the big problem with anything like this is that you legitimise late return. There was a study done in a US nursery where parents were occasionally late to pick up there kids. They introduced a scheme where the parents had to pay each time they were late. The problem was that this then became a financial decision rather than a moral decision. The parents, rather than worrying about inconveniencing the staff, now felt that they were paying for a service. Result: late collection rocketed.
I suspect the same will be true of any scheme that links payment to join with late return of books.
The fines system clearly results in lots of money being spent chasing down outstanding fines. But the problem that the fines system is designed to curtail - a lack of books being available for other borrowers - is unresolved. Maybe the answer is that you swipe your debit card when borrowing. If books are over a week late, the full replacement cost is deducted.
I do think its time that libraries became a chargeable service, though. I don't get free TV or free football (thank God) so why should i get free books?
[quote][p][bold]annotater[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]MrTomSmith[/bold] wrote: Oh and Library books is not difficult you take a £10 Deposit when you join and you get back when you leave.[/p][/quote]Too complicated to run and not enough responsible people to look after the cash. Name, address, and proof of councill tax payments with an authority to charge the household for any loss of books etc is all that is required. If they default, charge the council tax. If they don't pay council tax, don't lend them any books.[/p][/quote]There are no easy answers here. Tom's idea, in principle, is easier to administer and doesn't require piles of administrative work to set up an account. However, the big problem with anything like this is that you legitimise late return. There was a study done in a US nursery where parents were occasionally late to pick up there kids. They introduced a scheme where the parents had to pay each time they were late. The problem was that this then became a financial decision rather than a moral decision. The parents, rather than worrying about inconveniencing the staff, now felt that they were paying for a service. Result: late collection rocketed. I suspect the same will be true of any scheme that links payment to join with late return of books. The fines system clearly results in lots of money being spent chasing down outstanding fines. But the problem that the fines system is designed to curtail - a lack of books being available for other borrowers - is unresolved. Maybe the answer is that you swipe your debit card when borrowing. If books are over a week late, the full replacement cost is deducted. I do think its time that libraries became a chargeable service, though. I don't get free TV or free football (thank God) so why should i get free books? JamesYoung
  • Score: -1

11:59am Mon 21 Jul 14

JamesYoung says...

Sally MacLennane wrote:
Sensible. Guessing that debt will cost more to get that it would actually gain,.
Exactly.
[quote][p][bold]Sally MacLennane[/bold] wrote: Sensible. Guessing that debt will cost more to get that it would actually gain,.[/p][/quote]Exactly. JamesYoung
  • Score: 9

12:21pm Mon 21 Jul 14

ESDDWOJME says...

Advanced billing, rather than arrears billing. Problem solved.
Advanced billing, rather than arrears billing. Problem solved. ESDDWOJME
  • Score: 4

1:05pm Mon 21 Jul 14

JamesYoung says...

ESDDWOJME wrote:
Advanced billing, rather than arrears billing. Problem solved.
If it is, indeed, a problem. The Echo seem to be doing their usual tabloid style journalism. £8m in debt due within 30 days!
The council had an income budget of around £100m in 2012/13. You could do a "debtor days" calculation on this - £8m/100m*365 - gives you 29.2 days. Given that most businesses require their customers to pay up in 30 days, i'd say the council are doing ok on this front.
So the real question is the £4m of debt that hasn't been paid on time. Again, this is about 4% of the total income target. The average for the health and social care industry is about 2%. So the real story is that the council has £2m of debt that it isn't chasing, not £12m. The number may seen large, but it's 2% of the income budget and about 0.7% of the total budget. Finally, the reference to debt "incurred" by Children's Services and others suggest that this is actually internal debt - inter organisation funny money. An example: Children's Services is billed £1m (made up scenario) by the internal IT department but doesn't pay.
[quote][p][bold]ESDDWOJME[/bold] wrote: Advanced billing, rather than arrears billing. Problem solved.[/p][/quote]If it is, indeed, a problem. The Echo seem to be doing their usual tabloid style journalism. £8m in debt due within 30 days! The council had an income budget of around £100m in 2012/13. You could do a "debtor days" calculation on this - £8m/100m*365 - gives you 29.2 days. Given that most businesses require their customers to pay up in 30 days, i'd say the council are doing ok on this front. So the real question is the £4m of debt that hasn't been paid on time. Again, this is about 4% of the total income target. The average for the health and social care industry is about 2%. So the real story is that the council has £2m of debt that it isn't chasing, not £12m. The number may seen large, but it's 2% of the income budget and about 0.7% of the total budget. Finally, the reference to debt "incurred" by Children's Services and others suggest that this is actually internal debt - inter organisation funny money. An example: Children's Services is billed £1m (made up scenario) by the internal IT department but doesn't pay. JamesYoung
  • Score: 11

1:29pm Mon 21 Jul 14

westbaywonder says...

So there you have it citizens yet again.
Seen these jokers hound and threaten OAP,s for pathetic sums of £80 in the past.
A debt is a debt,but never mind eh, we will just write it off and then tell the citizens everyone is enduring hardship at this time and we (council) have no money.LOL!
I wonder how many of those books ended up on ebay?
So there you have it citizens yet again. Seen these jokers hound and threaten OAP,s for pathetic sums of £80 in the past. A debt is a debt,but never mind eh, we will just write it off and then tell the citizens everyone is enduring hardship at this time and we (council) have no money.LOL! I wonder how many of those books ended up on ebay? westbaywonder
  • Score: -5

1:33pm Mon 21 Jul 14

iansedwell says...

Why are people so fixated on the relatively tiny sum of £68,000 in overdue library book fees? This is trivial to write off.

Are not the several millions owed by Dorset Waste Partnership Phase 2 and academy schools of far greater interest - and by no means trivial.

Yet it seems, they are being given an easy ride! Too embarrassing for a Tory council to be seen to crack down on Tory favoured projects? Are the council taxpayers of Dorset now to be used to subsidise private enterprise?
Why are people so fixated on the relatively tiny sum of £68,000 in overdue library book fees? This is trivial to write off. Are not the several millions owed by Dorset Waste Partnership Phase 2 and academy schools of far greater interest - and by no means trivial. Yet it seems, they are being given an easy ride! Too embarrassing for a Tory council to be seen to crack down on Tory favoured projects? Are the council taxpayers of Dorset now to be used to subsidise private enterprise? iansedwell
  • Score: 9

1:50pm Mon 21 Jul 14

ESDDWOJME says...

westbaywonder wrote:
So there you have it citizens yet again.
Seen these jokers hound and threaten OAP,s for pathetic sums of £80 in the past.
A debt is a debt,but never mind eh, we will just write it off and then tell the citizens everyone is enduring hardship at this time and we (council) have no money.LOL!
I wonder how many of those books ended up on ebay?
First you say "pathetic sums of £80" and then "A debt is a debt" - Make up your mind "LOL"!

Dorset Echo has done a very good job of making a mountain out of a mole hill here. As JamesYoung stated, the figures are not that bad, do people really expected companies to collect 100% of their debts??
[quote][p][bold]westbaywonder[/bold] wrote: So there you have it citizens yet again. Seen these jokers hound and threaten OAP,s for pathetic sums of £80 in the past. A debt is a debt,but never mind eh, we will just write it off and then tell the citizens everyone is enduring hardship at this time and we (council) have no money.LOL! I wonder how many of those books ended up on ebay?[/p][/quote]First you say "pathetic sums of £80" and then "A debt is a debt" - Make up your mind "LOL"! Dorset Echo has done a very good job of making a mountain out of a mole hill here. As JamesYoung stated, the figures are not that bad, do people really expected companies to collect 100% of their debts?? ESDDWOJME
  • Score: 2

2:13pm Mon 21 Jul 14

JamesYoung says...

iansedwell wrote:
Why are people so fixated on the relatively tiny sum of £68,000 in overdue library book fees? This is trivial to write off.

Are not the several millions owed by Dorset Waste Partnership Phase 2 and academy schools of far greater interest - and by no means trivial.

Yet it seems, they are being given an easy ride! Too embarrassing for a Tory council to be seen to crack down on Tory favoured projects? Are the council taxpayers of Dorset now to be used to subsidise private enterprise?
Housing benefit - taxpayer subsidy of buy to let landlords
Tax credits - taxpayer subsidy so that businesses can pay staff below a living wage (lack of capitalisation intentional)
Funding for Lending Scheme - supposedly to help free up business lending, cheap bank funding so that they could lend to buy to let landlords
Help to Buy - cheap money to banks to help developers make profit
Help to Buy 2 - taxpayer guarantees to help construction companies, banks and estate agents make money
...one might argue that we've been doing so much subsidising of private enterprise that a couple more won't matter :-)
[quote][p][bold]iansedwell[/bold] wrote: Why are people so fixated on the relatively tiny sum of £68,000 in overdue library book fees? This is trivial to write off. Are not the several millions owed by Dorset Waste Partnership Phase 2 and academy schools of far greater interest - and by no means trivial. Yet it seems, they are being given an easy ride! Too embarrassing for a Tory council to be seen to crack down on Tory favoured projects? Are the council taxpayers of Dorset now to be used to subsidise private enterprise?[/p][/quote]Housing benefit - taxpayer subsidy of buy to let landlords Tax credits - taxpayer subsidy so that businesses can pay staff below a living wage (lack of capitalisation intentional) Funding for Lending Scheme - supposedly to help free up business lending, cheap bank funding so that they could lend to buy to let landlords Help to Buy - cheap money to banks to help developers make profit Help to Buy 2 - taxpayer guarantees to help construction companies, banks and estate agents make money ...one might argue that we've been doing so much subsidising of private enterprise that a couple more won't matter :-) JamesYoung
  • Score: 1

4:10pm Mon 21 Jul 14

MrTomSmith says...

Well Mr Paul Kent (Salary £109,430 - £123,793) does not think this is a problem. Well Mr Kent, I do think it is a problem. You are at very least according the Dorset For you Website earning approx £300 a day!! And you can't see that a loss is a problem. Heavens above. Well if we sacked you, then that half a million would be made up in FIVE years. That wouldn't be a problem to me. All those in favour.
Well Mr Paul Kent (Salary £109,430 - £123,793) does not think this is a problem. Well Mr Kent, I do think it is a problem. You are at very least according the Dorset For you Website earning approx £300 a day!! And you can't see that a loss is a problem. Heavens above. Well if we sacked you, then that half a million would be made up in FIVE years. That wouldn't be a problem to me. All those in favour. MrTomSmith
  • Score: 8

4:34pm Mon 21 Jul 14

WykeReg says...

This lends a whole new meaning to the title, Dorset 'Waste' Partnership.
This lends a whole new meaning to the title, Dorset 'Waste' Partnership. WykeReg
  • Score: 4

4:54pm Mon 21 Jul 14

westbaywonder says...

ESDDWOJME wrote:
westbaywonder wrote:
So there you have it citizens yet again.
Seen these jokers hound and threaten OAP,s for pathetic sums of £80 in the past.
A debt is a debt,but never mind eh, we will just write it off and then tell the citizens everyone is enduring hardship at this time and we (council) have no money.LOL!
I wonder how many of those books ended up on ebay?
First you say "pathetic sums of £80" and then "A debt is a debt" - Make up your mind "LOL"!

Dorset Echo has done a very good job of making a mountain out of a mole hill here. As JamesYoung stated, the figures are not that bad, do people really expected companies to collect 100% of their debts??
I stand by my comment.
Nothing funny about it, what i am saying is that the way they have behaved towards some citizens in chasing moneys owed is disgusting.
£80 is a pathetic sum compared to this amount, and yes pathetic sum or not a debt is a debt (FACT)
Yes,citizens do expect the council as a company to collect 100% of their debts. Reason= ITS THE CITIZENS MONEY THAT THEY ARE PLAYING WITH INCLUDING YOURS ESDDWOJME !!
[quote][p][bold]ESDDWOJME[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]westbaywonder[/bold] wrote: So there you have it citizens yet again. Seen these jokers hound and threaten OAP,s for pathetic sums of £80 in the past. A debt is a debt,but never mind eh, we will just write it off and then tell the citizens everyone is enduring hardship at this time and we (council) have no money.LOL! I wonder how many of those books ended up on ebay?[/p][/quote]First you say "pathetic sums of £80" and then "A debt is a debt" - Make up your mind "LOL"! Dorset Echo has done a very good job of making a mountain out of a mole hill here. As JamesYoung stated, the figures are not that bad, do people really expected companies to collect 100% of their debts??[/p][/quote]I stand by my comment. Nothing funny about it, what i am saying is that the way they have behaved towards some citizens in chasing moneys owed is disgusting. £80 is a pathetic sum compared to this amount, and yes pathetic sum or not a debt is a debt (FACT) Yes,citizens do expect the council as a company to collect 100% of their debts. Reason= ITS THE CITIZENS MONEY THAT THEY ARE PLAYING WITH INCLUDING YOURS ESDDWOJME !! westbaywonder
  • Score: -1

5:02pm Mon 21 Jul 14

ESDDWOJME says...

westbaywonder wrote:
ESDDWOJME wrote:
westbaywonder wrote:
So there you have it citizens yet again.
Seen these jokers hound and threaten OAP,s for pathetic sums of £80 in the past.
A debt is a debt,but never mind eh, we will just write it off and then tell the citizens everyone is enduring hardship at this time and we (council) have no money.LOL!
I wonder how many of those books ended up on ebay?
First you say "pathetic sums of £80" and then "A debt is a debt" - Make up your mind "LOL"!

Dorset Echo has done a very good job of making a mountain out of a mole hill here. As JamesYoung stated, the figures are not that bad, do people really expected companies to collect 100% of their debts??
I stand by my comment.
Nothing funny about it, what i am saying is that the way they have behaved towards some citizens in chasing moneys owed is disgusting.
£80 is a pathetic sum compared to this amount, and yes pathetic sum or not a debt is a debt (FACT)
Yes,citizens do expect the council as a company to collect 100% of their debts. Reason= ITS THE CITIZENS MONEY THAT THEY ARE PLAYING WITH INCLUDING YOURS ESDDWOJME !!
I completely understand where you are coming from, but be realistic, no company in the world collects all its debts!

What people don't seem to understand is that when the Council externally bill customers, they work into that a "bad debt provision" for situations like this. They charge companies like BT, SITA, SWH somewhere in the region of 5% more, covering themselves for situtions where the debt is impossible to retrieve.

westbaywonder, what would you do to collect a £300 waste bin invoice, where the customer has moved to Estonia to live? Send someone over?
[quote][p][bold]westbaywonder[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]ESDDWOJME[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]westbaywonder[/bold] wrote: So there you have it citizens yet again. Seen these jokers hound and threaten OAP,s for pathetic sums of £80 in the past. A debt is a debt,but never mind eh, we will just write it off and then tell the citizens everyone is enduring hardship at this time and we (council) have no money.LOL! I wonder how many of those books ended up on ebay?[/p][/quote]First you say "pathetic sums of £80" and then "A debt is a debt" - Make up your mind "LOL"! Dorset Echo has done a very good job of making a mountain out of a mole hill here. As JamesYoung stated, the figures are not that bad, do people really expected companies to collect 100% of their debts??[/p][/quote]I stand by my comment. Nothing funny about it, what i am saying is that the way they have behaved towards some citizens in chasing moneys owed is disgusting. £80 is a pathetic sum compared to this amount, and yes pathetic sum or not a debt is a debt (FACT) Yes,citizens do expect the council as a company to collect 100% of their debts. Reason= ITS THE CITIZENS MONEY THAT THEY ARE PLAYING WITH INCLUDING YOURS ESDDWOJME !![/p][/quote]I completely understand where you are coming from, but be realistic, no company in the world collects all its debts! What people don't seem to understand is that when the Council externally bill customers, they work into that a "bad debt provision" for situations like this. They charge companies like BT, SITA, SWH somewhere in the region of 5% more, covering themselves for situtions where the debt is impossible to retrieve. westbaywonder, what would you do to collect a £300 waste bin invoice, where the customer has moved to Estonia to live? Send someone over? ESDDWOJME
  • Score: 7

5:14pm Mon 21 Jul 14

JamesYoung says...

westbaywonder wrote:
ESDDWOJME wrote:
westbaywonder wrote:
So there you have it citizens yet again.
Seen these jokers hound and threaten OAP,s for pathetic sums of £80 in the past.
A debt is a debt,but never mind eh, we will just write it off and then tell the citizens everyone is enduring hardship at this time and we (council) have no money.LOL!
I wonder how many of those books ended up on ebay?
First you say "pathetic sums of £80" and then "A debt is a debt" - Make up your mind "LOL"!

Dorset Echo has done a very good job of making a mountain out of a mole hill here. As JamesYoung stated, the figures are not that bad, do people really expected companies to collect 100% of their debts??
I stand by my comment.
Nothing funny about it, what i am saying is that the way they have behaved towards some citizens in chasing moneys owed is disgusting.
£80 is a pathetic sum compared to this amount, and yes pathetic sum or not a debt is a debt (FACT)
Yes,citizens do expect the council as a company to collect 100% of their debts. Reason= ITS THE CITIZENS MONEY THAT THEY ARE PLAYING WITH INCLUDING YOURS ESDDWOJME !!
And if it costs 150% of a debt to chase that debt?
If somebody doesn't pay up, the council then has to pay somebody to collect the debt (usually a debt collector).
At that point the council has to decide whether it's worth pursuing the debt because if the person or company still doesn't pay up, it will cost the council even more money.
Anyway, we are all surmising because as usual the Echo narrative is all about the shock factor and not the facts.
[quote][p][bold]westbaywonder[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]ESDDWOJME[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]westbaywonder[/bold] wrote: So there you have it citizens yet again. Seen these jokers hound and threaten OAP,s for pathetic sums of £80 in the past. A debt is a debt,but never mind eh, we will just write it off and then tell the citizens everyone is enduring hardship at this time and we (council) have no money.LOL! I wonder how many of those books ended up on ebay?[/p][/quote]First you say "pathetic sums of £80" and then "A debt is a debt" - Make up your mind "LOL"! Dorset Echo has done a very good job of making a mountain out of a mole hill here. As JamesYoung stated, the figures are not that bad, do people really expected companies to collect 100% of their debts??[/p][/quote]I stand by my comment. Nothing funny about it, what i am saying is that the way they have behaved towards some citizens in chasing moneys owed is disgusting. £80 is a pathetic sum compared to this amount, and yes pathetic sum or not a debt is a debt (FACT) Yes,citizens do expect the council as a company to collect 100% of their debts. Reason= ITS THE CITIZENS MONEY THAT THEY ARE PLAYING WITH INCLUDING YOURS ESDDWOJME !![/p][/quote]And if it costs 150% of a debt to chase that debt? If somebody doesn't pay up, the council then has to pay somebody to collect the debt (usually a debt collector). At that point the council has to decide whether it's worth pursuing the debt because if the person or company still doesn't pay up, it will cost the council even more money. Anyway, we are all surmising because as usual the Echo narrative is all about the shock factor and not the facts. JamesYoung
  • Score: 5

6:00pm Mon 21 Jul 14

breamoreboy says...

dkh wrote:
MrTomSmith wrote:
annotater wrote:
MrTomSmith wrote:
Oh and Library books is not difficult you take a £10 Deposit when you join and you get back when you leave.
Too complicated to run and not enough responsible people to look after the cash. Name, address, and proof of councill tax payments with an authority to charge the household for any loss of books etc is all that is required. If they default, charge the council tax. If they don't pay council tax, don't lend them any books.
Same Same Different.
As many OAP, disabled and of course unemployed do not pay council tax would you deny them access to libraries? Therefore only the workers could use a library, and as they are only open when most are at work they wouldn't get used and therefore get shut. You will never devise a perfect system if you charge then many of the library users will not use the service, thereby returning them to being at risk of closure. The current system is far from perfect but short of employing the "heavies" to call round and request "can we have our books back" (which I do not suggest as being any good) this system is the best we have
Sadly the unemployed in Christchurch pay some council tax.
[quote][p][bold]dkh[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]MrTomSmith[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]annotater[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]MrTomSmith[/bold] wrote: Oh and Library books is not difficult you take a £10 Deposit when you join and you get back when you leave.[/p][/quote]Too complicated to run and not enough responsible people to look after the cash. Name, address, and proof of councill tax payments with an authority to charge the household for any loss of books etc is all that is required. If they default, charge the council tax. If they don't pay council tax, don't lend them any books.[/p][/quote]Same Same Different.[/p][/quote]As many OAP, disabled and of course unemployed do not pay council tax would you deny them access to libraries? Therefore only the workers could use a library, and as they are only open when most are at work they wouldn't get used and therefore get shut. You will never devise a perfect system if you charge then many of the library users will not use the service, thereby returning them to being at risk of closure. The current system is far from perfect but short of employing the "heavies" to call round and request "can we have our books back" (which I do not suggest as being any good) this system is the best we have[/p][/quote]Sadly the unemployed in Christchurch pay some council tax. breamoreboy
  • Score: 0

7:42pm Mon 21 Jul 14

radiator says...

Surely handing the dept over to a private agency would claw back some of the cash as they do with parking fine none payments.
Surely handing the dept over to a private agency would claw back some of the cash as they do with parking fine none payments. radiator
  • Score: 2

7:42pm Mon 21 Jul 14

ksmain says...

to me, this means that either:

1. The Council have an incompetent system of Finance Management; and/or
2. Their system of debt collection is poor, and/or
3. They have a poor business plan that does not generate the required funds from its' services or it is putting its' money into lost causes to start with.

Either way, guess who picks up the tab? Those of us who work and pay their taxes of course.
to me, this means that either: 1. The Council have an incompetent system of Finance Management; and/or 2. Their system of debt collection is poor, and/or 3. They have a poor business plan that does not generate the required funds from its' services or it is putting its' money into lost causes to start with. Either way, guess who picks up the tab? Those of us who work and pay their taxes of course. ksmain
  • Score: 0

10:02pm Mon 21 Jul 14

MrTomSmith says...

Put systems in place to stop the debts happening. If they happen after that, well then perhaps that is time to write them off. as I do disagree with chasing debts, the companies that do this are suckers for letting it happen. I very strongly believe in being pro active getting a robust system in place, and it will pay off. Its not a perfect world and you will lose some along the way, and so that is the small percentage you put into your costs, or the price of the service you are supplying. Come on these guys getting 100k should be able to sort that out surely?
Put systems in place to stop the debts happening. If they happen after that, well then perhaps that is time to write them off. as I do disagree with chasing debts, the companies that do this are suckers for letting it happen. I very strongly believe in being pro active getting a robust system in place, and it will pay off. Its not a perfect world and you will lose some along the way, and so that is the small percentage you put into your costs, or the price of the service you are supplying. Come on these guys getting 100k should be able to sort that out surely? MrTomSmith
  • Score: 2

10:38pm Mon 21 Jul 14

weymouthfox says...

So why is a debt incurred by the Dorset Waste Partnership not recoverable?
They are alive and well, rolling in money so I hear. Perhaps Mr Kent can't be bothered to call at Millers Close to collect his debt from the DWP.
So why is a debt incurred by the Dorset Waste Partnership not recoverable? They are alive and well, rolling in money so I hear. Perhaps Mr Kent can't be bothered to call at Millers Close to collect his debt from the DWP. weymouthfox
  • Score: 3

11:10am Tue 22 Jul 14

ESDDWOJME says...

weymouthfox wrote:
So why is a debt incurred by the Dorset Waste Partnership not recoverable?
They are alive and well, rolling in money so I hear. Perhaps Mr Kent can't be bothered to call at Millers Close to collect his debt from the DWP.
I think you might have the wrong end of the stick there ...

The Dorset Waste Partnership is part of Dorset County Council, the debts they have incurred are not payable to Paul Kent's section.

As I have previously stated, Dorset County Council builds in a bad debt provision when billing people. It is fact that debt will occur for many different reasons, do you think Apple, Virgin, Microsoft etc would bother chasing debts that cost more to collect than they are worth?!
[quote][p][bold]weymouthfox[/bold] wrote: So why is a debt incurred by the Dorset Waste Partnership not recoverable? They are alive and well, rolling in money so I hear. Perhaps Mr Kent can't be bothered to call at Millers Close to collect his debt from the DWP.[/p][/quote]I think you might have the wrong end of the stick there ... The Dorset Waste Partnership is part of Dorset County Council, the debts they have incurred are not payable to Paul Kent's section. As I have previously stated, Dorset County Council builds in a bad debt provision when billing people. It is fact that debt will occur for many different reasons, do you think Apple, Virgin, Microsoft etc would bother chasing debts that cost more to collect than they are worth?! ESDDWOJME
  • Score: 2

11:13am Tue 22 Jul 14

ESDDWOJME says...

ksmain wrote:
to me, this means that either:

1. The Council have an incompetent system of Finance Management; and/or
2. Their system of debt collection is poor, and/or
3. They have a poor business plan that does not generate the required funds from its' services or it is putting its' money into lost causes to start with.

Either way, guess who picks up the tab? Those of us who work and pay their taxes of course.
How can you comment on a business plan?

What if the Council billed with a bad debt provision of 4%, and at the end of the year "wrote off" 2% of its debts.

Your opionion is based on reading half the facts that The Echo could be bothered to print ...
[quote][p][bold]ksmain[/bold] wrote: to me, this means that either: 1. The Council have an incompetent system of Finance Management; and/or 2. Their system of debt collection is poor, and/or 3. They have a poor business plan that does not generate the required funds from its' services or it is putting its' money into lost causes to start with. Either way, guess who picks up the tab? Those of us who work and pay their taxes of course.[/p][/quote]How can you comment on a business plan? What if the Council billed with a bad debt provision of 4%, and at the end of the year "wrote off" 2% of its debts. Your opionion is based on reading half the facts that The Echo could be bothered to print ... ESDDWOJME
  • Score: 3

11:21am Tue 22 Jul 14

ESDDWOJME says...

iansedwell wrote:
Why are people so fixated on the relatively tiny sum of £68,000 in overdue library book fees? This is trivial to write off.

Are not the several millions owed by Dorset Waste Partnership Phase 2 and academy schools of far greater interest - and by no means trivial.

Yet it seems, they are being given an easy ride! Too embarrassing for a Tory council to be seen to crack down on Tory favoured projects? Are the council taxpayers of Dorset now to be used to subsidise private enterprise?
Sorry I have only just read this comment;

The Dorset Waste Partnership is part of the Environment Services Direcotrate and the "PENDING - £6,912.56" relates to them. Where are these several millions?

The £6912.56 bad debt accumulated over the past 3 years works out at less than 1% of the income raised.
[quote][p][bold]iansedwell[/bold] wrote: Why are people so fixated on the relatively tiny sum of £68,000 in overdue library book fees? This is trivial to write off. Are not the several millions owed by Dorset Waste Partnership Phase 2 and academy schools of far greater interest - and by no means trivial. Yet it seems, they are being given an easy ride! Too embarrassing for a Tory council to be seen to crack down on Tory favoured projects? Are the council taxpayers of Dorset now to be used to subsidise private enterprise?[/p][/quote]Sorry I have only just read this comment; The Dorset Waste Partnership is part of the Environment Services Direcotrate and the "PENDING - £6,912.56" relates to them. Where are these several millions? The £6912.56 bad debt accumulated over the past 3 years works out at less than 1% of the income raised. ESDDWOJME
  • Score: 1

11:31am Tue 22 Jul 14

La Vigneron says...

It would seem that many people are 'hung up' on the library debt. Opinion is, in the main, that some system should be put in place to avoid the situation occurring in the first place. Your task for the week, devise such a system!!
In my opinion, Mr Byatt seems to be the councillor in charge of the collective brain cell. Large debts from large enterprises should be ruthlessly pursued. Another interesting point, who has the authority to write of a debt, not the title, the mans name. Then he should publicly defend his actions.
It would seem that many people are 'hung up' on the library debt. Opinion is, in the main, that some system should be put in place to avoid the situation occurring in the first place. Your task for the week, devise such a system!! In my opinion, Mr Byatt seems to be the councillor in charge of the collective brain cell. Large debts from large enterprises should be ruthlessly pursued. Another interesting point, who has the authority to write of a debt, not the title, the mans name. Then he should publicly defend his actions. La Vigneron
  • Score: 2

1:13pm Tue 22 Jul 14

MadMicke12 says...

No debt becomes uncollectible until the expiration of six years from the date of the last communication with the debtor. Companies sell these debts to DCAs (Debt Collection Agencies) like MacKenzie Hall, PRA-UK and other pirhana's that are so called respectable debt collection companies.

If, 6 years has expired since contact was last made with the debtor, and by contact, I mean 2 way contact, then the debt becomes 'STATUTE BARRED' which means no further collection action can be taken on that debt. It is also known that some DCA's try to tell people theat the debt is never STATUTE BARRED - Don't be fooled by these scammers. Anther trick of these scammers is to cold call numbers and ask to speak to someone who does not exist. They get you to prove this by giving them your details, then tell you that they will take your number off their database. Your number then gets passed to a subsidiary company and they phone you, ask for you by name and then proceed to tell you that you have an outstanding debt. Most people can never remember if money was owed 3 or 4 years ago, so they accept that the debt is outstanding and pay up, thereby losing money they do not own.

The reason I made the last few paragraphs is that this is one of the leading causes of non payment of library fines. people only have a finite amount of income, they budget, usually frugally to make ends meet, Then they get this phone call, which threatens county court action if the debt is not paid within 14 days or instalment plans put in place to pay the debt off weekly, fortnightly or monthly. This results in families and individuals, having to reconfigure their budgets, and the first thing that goes is any outstanding local authority payments, such as council tax or fines for late return of books or some other fine.

If you owe money, then it should be paid, but until the people of this country are paid a living wage, i.e. a wage that gives them enough to live on with a bit to spare for those unforeseen occurrences that come our way, the late payment of fines and STATUE BARRING of debt will continue to happen.
No debt becomes uncollectible until the expiration of six years from the date of the last communication with the debtor. Companies sell these debts to DCAs (Debt Collection Agencies) like MacKenzie Hall, PRA-UK and other pirhana's that are so called respectable debt collection companies. If, 6 years has expired since contact was last made with the debtor, and by contact, I mean 2 way contact, then the debt becomes 'STATUTE BARRED' which means no further collection action can be taken on that debt. It is also known that some DCA's try to tell people theat the debt is never STATUTE BARRED - Don't be fooled by these scammers. Anther trick of these scammers is to cold call numbers and ask to speak to someone who does not exist. They get you to prove this by giving them your details, then tell you that they will take your number off their database. Your number then gets passed to a subsidiary company and they phone you, ask for you by name and then proceed to tell you that you have an outstanding debt. Most people can never remember if money was owed 3 or 4 years ago, so they accept that the debt is outstanding and pay up, thereby losing money they do not own. The reason I made the last few paragraphs is that this is one of the leading causes of non payment of library fines. people only have a finite amount of income, they budget, usually frugally to make ends meet, Then they get this phone call, which threatens county court action if the debt is not paid within 14 days or instalment plans put in place to pay the debt off weekly, fortnightly or monthly. This results in families and individuals, having to reconfigure their budgets, and the first thing that goes is any outstanding local authority payments, such as council tax or fines for late return of books or some other fine. If you owe money, then it should be paid, but until the people of this country are paid a living wage, i.e. a wage that gives them enough to live on with a bit to spare for those unforeseen occurrences that come our way, the late payment of fines and STATUE BARRING of debt will continue to happen. MadMicke12
  • Score: 0

4:27pm Tue 22 Jul 14

organizedconfusion says...

Surely there is no right for the council to write-off money owed. Their job is to work for the people who elected them to run the affairs of their community. Did any of them run a campaign saying when they are elected they will take this action? The debts should remain outstanding, and if not paid, the people concerned should face the same demeanor as the ones you post on your 'in court' column!
Surely there is no right for the council to write-off money owed. Their job is to work for the people who elected them to run the affairs of their community. Did any of them run a campaign saying when they are elected they will take this action? The debts should remain outstanding, and if not paid, the people concerned should face the same demeanor as the ones you post on your 'in court' column! organizedconfusion
  • Score: 0

11:22pm Tue 22 Jul 14

Tranquil says...

If you cant afford it don't have it.
Always pay what you owe
It is the principle of the matter whether it is a book or an expensive service. No one should be let off. The name for people who do not pay is 'Thief'.
If you cant afford it don't have it. Always pay what you owe It is the principle of the matter whether it is a book or an expensive service. No one should be let off. The name for people who do not pay is 'Thief'. Tranquil
  • Score: 0

9:55pm Wed 23 Jul 14

Thought Provoker says...

Unfortunately write off of debts is a fact of business life. Ask how much big businesses wrote off? Barclays Bank, provision £134 million.
Not a great example but you have to balance cost of recovery against that which is recovered
You also need to remember that the council deals with such diverse services that often payment up front is neither possible or practical.
Unfortunately write off of debts is a fact of business life. Ask how much big businesses wrote off? Barclays Bank, provision £134 million. Not a great example but you have to balance cost of recovery against that which is recovered You also need to remember that the council deals with such diverse services that often payment up front is neither possible or practical. Thought Provoker
  • Score: 2

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