Council offers more ways to pay your bills

Published on 8th July 2020

front of the municipal offices against dark blue sky

With changing customer preferences and advancements in technology, the borough council has carried out a review of customer payment options.

To offer greater flexibility and payment locations, customers needing to pay their bills in cash will have the opportunity to do so at post offices in a wide variety of locations around the borough.

The council also has plans to introduce recurring card payments later in the year which will provide even more flexibility and convenience to customers, enabling a payment mandate to be set up for services where this is not currently possible, such as garden waste. This will mean that customers do not have to contact the council each year to renew their garden waste subscription.

As part of the review, a recommendation to close council cash halls permanently was approved by cabinet yesterday (7 July 2020). Payment data shows that many customers are increasingly opting to pay electronically, choosing self-service over face-to-face payments in the cash halls located at the Municipal Offices, Hester’s Way and Oakley.

Cllr Alex Hegenbarth, cabinet member for corporate services, said: “I understand that some of our customers will still need to pay their council tax and housing rent with cash and they will be able to do this at a local post office. Staff will be able to offer the same level of customer service with advice and information by phone, email and through online channels.

“For many of our customers however, paying bills electronically is far more efficient and as such we have invested in our systems, making it easier and quicker for people to self-serve.  Over time we have seen a shift towards these methods of payments and less demand for face-to-face facilities.

“The use of cash halls across the country has been in decline for a long time, with many councils already having made the decision to close them.

“Throughout lockdown, many organisations have only been accepting card payments and this has accelerated the move towards cashless transactions. Experience from both borough council and Cheltenham Borough Homes (CBH) shows that many customers have already switched to using alternative methods of payment and contact, for example online and telephone automated payments.

“There are a wide variety of payment options for customers and we will support them through this change.’’

Payments by cheque will also be phased out as part of the move. The use of cheques continues to decline and involves a significant amount of manual processing. Customers with banks accounts are able to migrate to other methods of payments and, if required, customers can telephone to make payments by debit or credit card.

The permanent closure of the cash offices and the phasing out of payment by cheque will realise savings and will enable investment into increasing payment access and improving the customer experience when making payments to the council or CBH.

ENDS

For media enquiries, contact: communications, telephone 01242 264154, email communications@cheltenham.gov.uk

Notes: Please see the payment access review report on the council’s website www.cheltenham.gov.uk.