Brent Council writes off nearly £2m owed in bad debts

Brent Civic Centre

Brent Civic Centre - Credit: Nathalie Raffray

Almost £2 million owed to Brent Council was written off after hundreds of debt cases were deemed too problematic to pursue.

Its cabinet agreed to cancel debts relating to 338 people or businesses on the basis they were “uneconomic to collect, irrecoverable, [or] subject to individual voluntary arrangements”.

These debts, which covered amounts of at least £3,000, were worth just under £1.8 million in total, including £22,840 in rent arrears.

A report produced by council officers and outlined at the April 6 cabinet meeting explained most of the cases covered the period from 1994 to 2010 and were viewed as “old debts”.

It added there would be no impact on recent budgets as provisions were in place to account for debts that could not be collected.

Councillors noted the decision would be in line with recommendations stemming from an audit report in 2019, which suggested debts should be written off “when it is certain [they] are no longer recoverable or cost recovery would outweigh the benefit”.

They agreed that, while it is important to try and recover as much money as possible, it is unwise to “waste resources” chasing complex cases.

The audit report also pointed out debts set for write off should be “actioned without lengthy delay” – officers noted that, while many of these cover cases from several years ago, this was the first report presented to cabinet relating to this issue.