The total debt written off by West Devon Borough Council over the latest six month period was £203,000, almost double what it was the previous year.

This has come about because of a number of larger council tax and business rate debts over £5,000 because of people and businesses becoming insolvent.

This reflected difficult trading conditions and financial issues during the covid pandemic and cost of living crisis, members of the council’s hub committee were told.

The figure covers the six months to March 2024. During the same time frame the previous year the amount of debt written off by WDBC was £107,000.

There has been an increase in writing off debt down to the council’s own errors or that of the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). Housing benefit overpayments amounted to £9,000, compared to £965 the previous year.

This money isn’t legally recoverable, so the council has no choice but to write it off.

A new role of training and quality assurance officer has been created which should result in more accurate processing in the future, said Cllr Chris Edmonds (Con, Tamarside), lead member for performance and resources.

The collection rate for council tax is 98 per cent, the same as last year. The business or non-domestic rates collection rate was just under 98 per cent.

“This is still a good performance in the current economic climate,” said Cllr Edmonds. “Recovery action is still ongoing regarding the outstanding debt.”