Ratepayer debt still too high at £125m

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The vast majority of rates due in Derry City & Strabane District Council were successfully collected by Land and Property Services last year.

However, the Auditor General Kieran Donnelly has calculated that overall ratepayer debt across the North stood at £125m in April.

This money, if collected, could fund a range of public services and utilities, Mr. Donnelly has said.

According to Mr. Donnelly’s newly-published audit of the LPS accounts for 2018/19 £15.9 in rates arrears were written off last year in the North.

“LPS has made improvements through its debt management strategy but there is still £125 million ratepayer debt outstanding which is not available for public use.

“LPS has pointed out this includes late rate assessments and debt that is under a payment arrangement and the majority of the debt outstanding at year end is expected to be recovered. It is therefore important that all necessary steps are taken to maximise recovery,” he declared.

Mr. Donnelly explained that total debt outstanding at March 31, 2019 was £124.5 million compared to £125.8 million at March 31, 2018.

The amount written off in 2018/19 was £15.9 million compared to £19.3 million in 2017/18.

The LPS accounts show that in Derry and Strabane £113,845,143 in rates were due at the end of March 2019. This was on assessments for April 2018.

According to LPS £111,359,679 (97.8 per cent) of this had been collected or discharged by the end of the last financial year, with just £2,485,464 still outstanding.

This pattern was reflected across the North were the total balance due was £34,018,233.