Dorset County Council owed 8.9 Million

debt

Published at 8:04am 16th March 2019.

It's a rise of 25%

A staggering £8.9million is owed to Dorset County Council in unpaid invoices.

The figure has shot up by 25 per cent in less than a year and is said to be building up almost as fast as it can be cleared.

At the same time long-standing debt, more than six months old, has increased by £218,000.

Most of this increase is said to arise from the adult and community services directorate which has seen a rise in the number of people who receive care, being unable, or unwilling, to pay their bills – amounting to £1.6million in total.

Part of the recent overall rise is expected to be only in the red for a short term including a number of high value invoices, totalling £1.4million, issued to the NHS in the past 2-3 weeks.

But there has also been around 2,500 social care invoices sent out in mid-February totalling £800,000, an area where payment has, in the past, been slower to achieve.

A detailed report to the county council’s audit and governance committee on March 11th says that Adult and Community Services debt is currently £4.9m, over £1.8m higher than the previous report in December 2018. Of this total £2.35m is less than 30 days old.

“The remaining £1.6m is made up from monies owed by individual service users who have been invoiced for their contribution for their social care provision or transport to day-care facilities but have not paid despite several requests for payment. These debts are actively pursued either by our credit control team or by legal services,” says Jim McManus, acting chief financial officer.

Invoices which have not been paid to the county council after more than a year now amount to £1.29million, with another £591,000 not being paid between six months and a year after being issued.

In the eleven months to February this year the council has written off £221,000 in debt, 91 per cent of it accounted for by adult and community services.

Mr McManus admits that trying to keep up with chasing debts is proving to be a difficult task: “Work is ongoing to clear out the most historic debts and to improve the process and the speed at which all debts are recovered, however debts are accruing almost as fast as they can be cleared and so the overall level of debt for this service area is fairly constant.”

By Trevor Bevins, Local Democracy Reporter