Aberdeen council chiefs are adamant help is available for individuals and businesses struggling to pay their way after it emerged nearly £2 million went unpaid last year.
Statistics obtained by the Evening Express under Freedom of Information legislation show the amount of council tax and non-domestic rates which went uncollected in the north-east during the last financial year.
More than £875,000 in council tax was unpaid, along with more than £840,000 owed in non-domestic rates.
Aberdeen City Council is still owed a total of more than £23m from the last five years.
Jonathan Belford, the council’s chief officer for finance, said: “Sometimes circumstances arise which mean we are not able to recover money that’s due.
“We will always seek to recover debt and we use all legal means to do that.
“We write off debt when we know it is not going to be collectable – for example, if a company has gone bankrupt.
“In that situation there are no assets so there would be no way of obtaining any income from that company.
“Therefore we have to write off that amount due to it being unrecoverable.
“However, if it becomes the case in the future that the debt is recoverable again, we are able to write it back on and pursue it.”
Of the £431m due to the city council since 2014, £417m has been paid.
Out of £858m in non-domestic rates, £849m has been paid.
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However, Aberdeen City Council has written off more than £3m of council tax and non-domestic rates since 2014, while the figure for Aberdeenshire Council stands at around £2m.
A total of more than £4.4m of debt was also written off by the city council in 2017-18 – although this is due to long-standing service income arrears from between 2005 and 2012.
Bosses say uncollected rates are down to businesses going into liquidation or individuals facing challenging financial circumstances – and say help is available to those who need it.
The council’s director of resources Steve Whyte said: “There are 112,000 council tax payers and something in the region of 10,000 businesses in Aberdeen and that debt is spread across all of them.
“It’s not single bunches of £14m council tax and £9m non-domestic rates – we are talking about small amounts of £90 or £100 at a time.
“We work with people who are in arrears or in a challenging financial situation to find an affordable solution.
“We work with organisations such as Citizens’ Advice to find solutions which work for people.
“There is a responsibility around the personal stories that sit behind these numbers and the lives of the people affected. We wouldn’t want to cause anyone further anguish and spend a lot of time and resources trying to get them out of that position.”
An Aberdeenshire Council spokesman said: “We manage our finances as prudently and responsibly as possible.
“Unfortunately, there are times when it is concluded that it is more practicable to write debt off than to continue to endeavour to collect it.
“When such instances occur, decisions are taken by the most appropriate and senior officers within the council and, in certain cases, these matters are decided by the relevant council committee.
“We would like to reassure residents debt is only written off as a last resort – we do our utmost to ensure it is collected as promptly as possible.”