Mayday – that’s when council bills will switch to post offices
SNP councillors Iain McLaren and Ian Dickson.
May 14, 2018 – Council residents will be enabled to pay Council-related bills in cash at local Post Offices and dozens of Pay Point outlets from May 1 in West Dunbartonshire.
The proposal to transfer cash payments from existing One Stop Shops into 85 post offices and shops received 90% support in the recent budget consultation process, the legitimacy of which was challenged by Labour and Community Party councillors.
SNP and Tory councillors approved the move at the budget setting meeting on March 5 and it will be introduced from Tuesday, May 1 2018. Most cash-paying residents will already be familiar with making payments at these venues for their other bills such as utility, TV licences, and phone credit.
The One Stop Shop teams will be helping cash paying residents with the change in advance, and also highlighting the range of telephone and electronic payment options available to make paying bills as simple as possible for residents.
In a further change from May 1 cheque payments, which are inefficient and slow to process, will only be possible via Bank Giro Credit at bank or building society branches.
The changed approach is part of a plan to transform the way the Council interacts with residents by increasing staffing at its telephone contact centre to reduce wait times – particularly at lunchtimes – and introducing web chat.
Opening times at the contact centre will be amended to 9am to 4.30pm with more staff available to answer the phones between the peak hours of 12 and 2pm when 25% of calls are received from the public. In addition, the team at the One Stop Shop in Alexandria is relocating to the nearby Alexandria Library where visitors can also take advantage of book loans, use the computers, access free wi-fi, and informally receive Macmillan Cancer Support.
Extra staffing will be provided in the Welfare Fund team Monday to Friday to assist with crisis grants to vulnerable residents, and the current weekend service which receives just 2% of all applications will cease.
Councillor Ian Dickson, Convener of Corporate Services, said: “This change will help residents to pay their Council bills closer to home or work and give business to local shops.
“The vast majority of residents backed this option in the budget consultation. This project is part of wider improvements in the telephone contact centre, One Stop Shops, welfare fund and online to improve the way we help and support our residents.”
The ways in which residents will be able to make payments to the Council are:
- Direct Debit/Standing Order – either method can be set up by contacting the relevant section on the telephone number provided on your payment notification, or you can complete a Direct Debit mandate online at www.west-dunbarton.gov.uk/counciltaxdirectdebit
- Online payment facility – offers a secure payment service and can be accessed on our website www.west-dunbarton.gov.uk by selecting ‘Pay It’
- Automated Telephone Payment Service – Payment can be made using Debit/Credit card on telephone number 0845 303 9487. This service is available 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week quoting the reference number from your payment notification. Calls cost 3 pence per minute plus your phone company’s access charge
- Payments can also conveniently be made at local Post Offices and PayPoint outlets for Council Tax and rent payments using a payment card provided by the Council. Payment by cheque will be accepted at Post Offices only for Council Tax and Rent payments
- Bank Giro Credit – Complete the bank giro credit form and take it to any bank together with cash or cheque
Councillor Iain McLaren, Vice Convener of Corporate Services, added: “We are determined to be an open and accessible Council and part of that is making it as easy as possible for people to pay their bills. This change will do that by helping residents to use a much wider range of locations to make cash payments.
“It will also allow us to put resources into services such as the telephone contact centre that we know residents really value. We are thankful to everyone for taking part in the budget consultation process to help us choose options that were supported by local people.”