Hertfordshire County Council is owed a staggering £60m in overdue payments it has been revealed

Scale of debts owed is highlighted to councillors ahead of estimated £13.4m overspend
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Hertfordshire County Council is owed a staggering £60m in overdue payments it has been revealed.

As the county council faces an estimated £13.4m overspend in 2023/24, latest budget data shows it is owed the eye-watering amount in overdue payments.

And now Liberal Democrat Cllr Tim Williams has suggested there should be ‘a bit more focus’ on collecting those debts that are three months or more overdue.

Money stock image. Photo: Adobe StockMoney stock image. Photo: Adobe Stock
Money stock image. Photo: Adobe Stock

Cllr Williams made the remarks at a meeting of the council’s resources and performance cabinet panel, on Friday (December 1).

At that meeting data was presented that showed that at the end of September the council was owed a total of £90.5m, which is £7.2m higher than three months earlier.

Of that, £31.7m is not yet overdue – and £10.8m is overdue by less than a month.

However £42.5m is overdue by three months or longer – and of that £28.6m has been outstanding for at least nine months.

Cllr Williams said he found the council’s debt position ‘very high’.

And he said: “This £42.5m debt owed that is over three months past its due date, I just feel there should be a bit more focus and attention with getting this £42m in to address the £3m deficit.”

Cllr Williams suggested that if collected it could reducing borrowing costs for the council or increase investment opportunities.

And he said: “I think there is a lot of money there which could actually have a great impact to the council.”

In response, head of corporate finance Scott Walker said he agreed that the council’s debt position was ‘high’. And he indicated that it was coming under greater focus.

Detailing the ‘debt position’ he suggested that around 40 per cent was associated with the council’s ‘health partners’.

And he said the council was beginning to work with more effectively by using payment portals that would ‘bring that debt in much quicker’.

He suggested another 40 per cent related to the council’s ‘social care clients’.

And he acknowledged that this could be a ‘complex and tricky’ debt to collect.

This was also acknowledged by executive member for resources and performance Cllr Bob Deering.

“Quite a significant bit of the debt arises in adult care, where we have statutory obligations,” he said.

“And then, of course, there can be very delicate issues when it comes to recovering the debt.

“But nevertheless officers are very alive to it – and they are certainly working on it.”

Latest data – based on figures from the end of September – suggests that the council is heading for a £13.4m overspend by the end of the 23/24 financial year.

The budget already includes a £10m contingency – leaving a projected budget gap of £3.4m. Overall the council’s annual revenue budget for 23/24 was set at £1.07bn.