No write-off yet for Borders poll tax debtors

MORE than £147,000 still owed in unpaid poll tax debts to Scottish Borders Council (SBC) is unlikely to be written off before it has to be.

It was reported recently that the local authority was still owed £147,016, but the situation was unclear as to whether SBC would join some other Scottish councils in cancelling old outstanding poll tax arrears.

Local authorities north of the border are still owed a total of more than £320 million from people who refused to pay the controversial community charge (poll tax), which was introduced back in 1989 by the Conservative Government which was led by Margaret Thatcher and abolished four years later by her successor, John Major.

Four councils have already given up chasing outstanding poll tax monies. They include Inverclyde, which cancelled £6 million of debt last year. Argyll and Bute last year collected only £174 of the £3.4 million still owed to them, while South Lanarkshire clawed back just £31,409 of the £30.9 million it is due.

In Edinburgh, council chiefs are owed over £72 million, but collected just £65,838 last year.

Next year will see the 20th anniversary of the poll tax being replaced by the council tax and, under Scots Law, that interval means any outstanding payments will have to be automatically be written off.

However, a spokesman for SBC has now stated that it did not look like the local authority was intending cancelling outstanding poll tax debts just yet.

“We will consider writing off debt that we feel is uncollectable in the normal course of reviewing debts of all types,” he explained, but added: “There are no plans, at the moment, to write off the £147,000 in totality.”