By Carl Jackson Friday 22 March 2013 Updated: 22/03 17:14
BROMSGROVE District Council has been slammed by an insider who has accused officers of not writing off debts correctly, which he says could have cost the authority thousands of pounds.
The anonymous source released confidential information following an article in The Standard two weeks ago which stated nearly £700,000 was set to go uncollected by the council from the current financial year.
The sum is largely made up of unpaid business rates and council tax.
The document shown to The Standard was taken from part of the council’s Audit Board agenda for last Thursday’s meeting (March 14).
It revealed before November last year, one of a sample of five debts selected to be written off had not been signed off correctly by a suitably senior person.
The document warned this could lead to unnecessary ‘financial loss’ and recommended staff were reminded of the importance of making sure paperwork was given the ‘appropriate authorisation’.
However, the source said, it was vital the writing off of debts was authorised by senior officers and not merely done at a lower level.
And he said it was likely some of those written off would not have been, had they been seen by a senior officer.
The source added because one debt was handled incorrectly, it was likely there had been other similar oversights. And that, he claimed, could amount to up to £140,000 worth of debts that should never have been written off.
Furthermore he hit out at the council for not allowing the information to be viewed publicly.
He said: “Why are some residents owing money being pursued and others being let off by the council not following the correct procedures?
“Bromsgrove District Council has tried to cover up this appalling practice which demonstrates complete disregard for hardworking council taxpayers.”
A council spokeswoman said: “We are constantly checking our finance processes. One out of a sample of five had not been signed.
“As soon as this was highlighted to us we put a double checking procedure in place.”
She added by the end of the financial year on March 31, all debts will have been signed off appropriately and no money would be lost unnecessarily.
The spokeswoman also said the document had originally been made confidential in an effort to avoid encouraging people to think they could get away without paying council tax.
She added all of the council’s accounts were available for the public to see online at www.bromsgrove.gov.uk
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