PENDLE Council is being forced to write off more than £500,000 in unpaid debts, including more than 200 unpaid council tax bills.

Councillors on the executive committee will be asked to write off the debts when they meet on Thursday.

The debts being written off are £182,085 from unpaid council tax, £310,975 in unpaid national non-domestic rates (business rates) and £31,755 in overpayments of housing benefit.

Coun Linda Crossley, who leads on financial matters in Pendle, said: “It’s never a happy decision when we agree to writing off any debt to the council.

“We have robust procedures in place for collecting debts and we only consider writing-off debts after taking all possible steps to collect them and where it’s not economically viable to continue pursuing them.

“However if, in the future, we get information that could lead to the recovery of previously written-off debt, we will try to recover it.

“In fact, since April 1, 2013, we’ve identified people whose debts had been previously written off and are now seeking to recover around £36,400.”

Amongst the recommendations for write-off are 241 cases of unpaid council tax.

The majority of these people have disappeared without trace, despite the council’s continued efforts to find them.

In the current financial year, the council expects to collect £36.8million in council tax. The recommended write-off amount of council tax is less than 0.5 per cent of this.