More than £130,000 of irrecoverable debt has been written off by Renfrewshire Council after the move was authorised by elected members.

The decision was made as recovery of the sums from individuals and companies was no longer deemed “viable”, a report disclosed.

A total amount of £131,316.97, comprising council tax and non-domestic rates debt, was approved for write-off by the finance, resources and customer services policy board on Thursday.

A paper said the local authority had already “pursued” the debts in question, adding that it was “considered prudent” to write off the outstanding balance.

The report also showed a number of council tax debts had accumulated over significant periods of time – a trend Councillor Alison Ann-Dowling, Labour group finance spokesperson, sought clarity on.

She told the board: “I’d like officers to speak to how it’s possible to run up council tax debt over between a 15 and 20-year period, as laid out in this report, to accrue over £16,000 in debt.

“It’s a very difficult situation at times and some of the factors are outwith the control of council officers, but I think given the sheer scale of some of these individual debts … it’s worth a wee bit of our time to discuss this further.

“The other issue I wanted to note is a very welcome reduction in our non-domestic rates debt. [It’s] still horrible when you look at the overall figure of over £130,000 that we’re having to write off but when you look at non-domestic rate debts … it does appear to be substantially fewer debtors than we’ve been presented with in the past, so I do want to acknowledge that.”

Emma Shields, strategic service delivery manager, explained the council’s process in trying to collect outstanding debts.

She said: “Council tax is obviously billed every year and it’s something that we continue to bill whether or not it’s paid. We have robust reminder processes in place for when payments are received late or not received at all.

“If accounts are not brought up-to-date, they’re then passed to our collection agents in their capacity as sheriff officers for council tax debt, a warrant’s obtained and then they have additional powers that they can use to try and collect the debts from there.

“Within the council, we have our own limited resources as well that we will monitor high proportions of debt and we will assess whether or not there’s potential for us to also pursue legal action for council tax debt.

“There’s always got to be a balance between the cost of doing that and the likelihood of collection in terms of whether or not there’s assets or capital there to obtain those debts.

“Another important factor that we try to ensure to avoid build-up of council tax is ensuring that anyone who is entitled to council tax reduction support has that in place and therefore … we have an ongoing piece of work that we’re trying to encourage as much take-up of that as possible.”

She acknowledged the amount for non-domestic rates was lower than previous boards, but said this was often impacted by the “volatility in relation to the size of the accounts”.

Ms Shields added: “One case can take the value really quite high, if it’s a high value case with a high rateable value and high level of charge.”