Debt recovery efforts at Dorset Council are returning to normal following two years of a ‘light touch’ approach due to the pandemic.
Dorset Council Executive director for finance Aidan Dunn told councillors that one of the areas of concern remained debts to the authority although officers were being mindful of the pressures many residents were now under because of the rapidly rising cost of living increases.
Mr Dunn told an audit committee meeting on Wednesday that over the past two years the authority had been directed by the Government to have a light touch over debt recovery and had also been busy with administering Government relief both to businesses and individuals.
He said that compounding the problems of normal debt recovery methods had been the difficulty the courts were having in operating normally. He said that although that had now improved there were still delays in taking legal action to recover amounts owing.
Marshwood Vale councillor Simon Christopher called for an assurance that the council was returning to what he described as “the appropriate level” of debt collection, including court action where needed. He said anything less would not be a seen in a positive light by responsible people who continued to pay their liabilities to the council.
Cllr Christopher, who has a background in finance, said it worried him when he read of the willingness to write off some debts, although chief financial officer Jim McManus assured him that if debts were still showing on the council’s books, they would be pursued.
Mr McManus said that he hoped by the autumn that the level of debt collection would have improved as a result of officers’ actions and the improved access to the of courts.