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Thursday, 18 September 2014

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Copeland business rates shock

MORE than £500,000 in business rates owed to Copeland Borough Council has been written off this year – painting a bleak economic picture.

A report ahead of next Tuesday’s executive committee meeting revealed that £558,432 in money owed to the council from National Non Domestic Rates is irrecoverable, which is more than double the £167,716 written off the previous financial year.

Under current arrangements the cash will not come out of the pockets of Copeland taxpayers, as NNDRs are covered by central government, but the figures highlight the struggle facing business owners.

Ian Curwen, communications manager at the council, said: “It does take a while for us to assess that a debt cannot be recovered so it does not necessarily mean all that money is from businesses that went bankrupt last year, but these figures do reflect the current economic situation.”

The report also revealed a debt of £337,000 had to be written off from just one business in the last three months.

Cumbria County Councillor for Millom, Brian Crawford, said: “Every year there’s two or three businesses closing in Millom. It’s a shame to see them go under.’’

The report also revealed the amount of council tax debt the council have had to write off has doubled this financial year, increasing to £62,978 from £28,914 last year.

Pat Graham, Copeland’s director of services said: “It is good practice to write off debts that are irrecoverable. This may be because of bankruptcy of individuals, bankruptcy of partnerships or the liquidation of companies – these are often the most costly.

“Only a small part of the cost of these write-offs falls to Copeland Borough Council, and we only write off debts where we know they can’t be recovered or the cost of doing so would be more than the debt itself.”

Suzanne Caldwell, head of communications and business services at Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, said: “It’s concerning that the number of businesses unable to pay their rates has increased so significantly and reflects the difficult trading conditions for some businesses, particularly in sectors such as retail.

“But this is certainly not the whole picture. Many other businesses are facing a much more positive scenario.”

Changes to the law due to come in next year could mean that in future financial years the council would be liable to cover the cost of debts from NNDRs being written off.

Have your say

Only 2 comments on a subject like this.No chance, their must be more,is the Whitehaven news pandering to the council and not putting to much criticising of the council on, as most of your stories are now relating to the gross incompetance of the council,maybe if you fill the paper front to back with criticism of the council maybe then the pro labour, turn a blind eye brigade will then finally get the message.

Posted by James O on 29 May 2013 at 12:31

Gerard Richardson would make a fabulous Director of Services,people n places. He has the drive and energy and cares deeply about Copeland, We wouldn't have to trail to Workington for our shopping either. I am afraid that the new council logo was just another waste of money

Posted by Weakest Link on 27 May 2013 at 16:36

View all 3 comments on this article

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