Fury as council plans to stop over-the-counter payments at North Quay headquarters

Dorset Echo: CONCERNED: Colin Huckle CONCERNED: Colin Huckle

VULNERABLE people will suffer when a council scraps a service for paying bills, campaigners claim.

Weymouth and Portland Borough Council will stop over-the-counter payments at its North Quay offices later this year ahead of a move to a new site.

Residents will instead have to pay over the phone, via the internet or by setting up a direct debit.

The council is moving operations out of North Quay and says there will be no cash desk facility at its new town centre hub either.

Stopping counter payments will penalise people who only pay by cash and do not have bank accounts for various reasons, including those with poor credit ratings, say Labour councillors.

They say the needs of all residents must be met and are urging the council to make alternative arrangements.

Payments for things like council tax, business rates and invoices can be made at reception.

Stopping this service will cut queues and save money, says the council.

Research reveals there are around 8,000 visitors a month to the council reception, of which 2,000 make cash payments.

Labour group leader on the council, Colin Huckle, who is also the authority’s spokesman on social inclusion, said the move to stop counter payments surprised councillors who knew nothing of the change until an information leaflet was distributed.

He hopes people making cash payments will be able to do it via a bank but there is nothing on the leaflet explaining this. Cllr Huckle said: “I object most strongly that arrangements for cash payments appear not to be catered for.

“There are savings to be made if we can encourage more people to pay online, but this change impacts on those from all walks of life. Some will have no other way to pay.”

He added: “This change is being introduced as part of the preparation to move council accommodation out of North Quay.

“Labour councillors argued in March that consideration needs to be given to the impact on users of council services as well as to staff.”

Over-the-counter payments will stop at North Quay in October.

Major savings in payment change

FINANCE and assets spokesman for the council Peter Chapman said: “We have taken the difficult decision to sell our North Quay offices as we can no longer afford to run them. We will also no longer be able to afford to accept cash or card payments over the counter. It costs £1.46 to process cash payments compared to just two pence for a direct debit.

“We want to help our customers deal with this change and arrange other easier and more convenient ways to pay. Customers can pay online, by telephone or direct debit. The 24-hour payment line is 0845 30 10 204 and information about online payments can be found at dorsetforyou.com/payments and about direct debit at dorsetforyou.com/council-tax /directdebit

“Many other councils have also had to make this decision and no longer accept cash or card payments over the counter.”

Cllr Chapman said the council would work with customers who don’t have bank accounts in setting up one for them.

He added: “Later this year, we will offer a payment card that will allow customers to make cash payments at Post Offices and at Paypoint locations.”

Comments (6)

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10:54am Sat 12 Apr 14

Ian_SE says...

On 26 December 2013, the Cabinet Office directed government departments and public services using expensive 084 and 087 telephone numbers to move to cheaper 01, 02 and 03 numbers and in future to select 03 numbers as the default option.

The Environment Agency, the Department for Work and Pensions, Carlisle City Council, Lancashire County Council, Rochdale Borough Council, Hambleton District Council and many others have complied with the Cabinet Office ruling. HMRC changed their numbers earlier in 2013.

These changes are prompted by new consumer protection legislation coming into force on 13 June 2014. The new rules will make it illegal for traders to use 084, 087 and 09 numbers for customer service helpline from that date. Government departments are not covered by the new legislation, but it would be inappropriate for public services to continue using the types of telephone numbers that traders are banned from using.

Why are Dorset residents still being ripped off by having to call an up-to-41p/min 0845 telephone line to make payments to the council? The 0845 telephone number should have been dropped years ago. These haven't been "local rate" calls since 2004. Why has the council failed to change the number?
On 26 December 2013, the Cabinet Office directed government departments and public services using expensive 084 and 087 telephone numbers to move to cheaper 01, 02 and 03 numbers and in future to select 03 numbers as the default option. The Environment Agency, the Department for Work and Pensions, Carlisle City Council, Lancashire County Council, Rochdale Borough Council, Hambleton District Council and many others have complied with the Cabinet Office ruling. HMRC changed their numbers earlier in 2013. These changes are prompted by new consumer protection legislation coming into force on 13 June 2014. The new rules will make it illegal for traders to use 084, 087 and 09 numbers for customer service helpline from that date. Government departments are not covered by the new legislation, but it would be inappropriate for public services to continue using the types of telephone numbers that traders are banned from using. Why are Dorset residents still being ripped off by having to call an up-to-41p/min 0845 telephone line to make payments to the council? The 0845 telephone number should have been dropped years ago. These haven't been "local rate" calls since 2004. Why has the council failed to change the number? Ian_SE
  • Score: 18

12:04pm Sat 12 Apr 14

Sigurd Hoeberth says...

Ian_SE wrote:
On 26 December 2013, the Cabinet Office directed government departments and public services using expensive 084 and 087 telephone numbers to move to cheaper 01, 02 and 03 numbers and in future to select 03 numbers as the default option.

The Environment Agency, the Department for Work and Pensions, Carlisle City Council, Lancashire County Council, Rochdale Borough Council, Hambleton District Council and many others have complied with the Cabinet Office ruling. HMRC changed their numbers earlier in 2013.

These changes are prompted by new consumer protection legislation coming into force on 13 June 2014. The new rules will make it illegal for traders to use 084, 087 and 09 numbers for customer service helpline from that date. Government departments are not covered by the new legislation, but it would be inappropriate for public services to continue using the types of telephone numbers that traders are banned from using.

Why are Dorset residents still being ripped off by having to call an up-to-41p/min 0845 telephone line to make payments to the council? The 0845 telephone number should have been dropped years ago. These haven't been "local rate" calls since 2004. Why has the council failed to change the number?
An excellent point. Especially for people who only have mobile phones and not land-lines of which there are quite a few, the cost is horrendous.
[quote][p][bold]Ian_SE[/bold] wrote: On 26 December 2013, the Cabinet Office directed government departments and public services using expensive 084 and 087 telephone numbers to move to cheaper 01, 02 and 03 numbers and in future to select 03 numbers as the default option. The Environment Agency, the Department for Work and Pensions, Carlisle City Council, Lancashire County Council, Rochdale Borough Council, Hambleton District Council and many others have complied with the Cabinet Office ruling. HMRC changed their numbers earlier in 2013. These changes are prompted by new consumer protection legislation coming into force on 13 June 2014. The new rules will make it illegal for traders to use 084, 087 and 09 numbers for customer service helpline from that date. Government departments are not covered by the new legislation, but it would be inappropriate for public services to continue using the types of telephone numbers that traders are banned from using. Why are Dorset residents still being ripped off by having to call an up-to-41p/min 0845 telephone line to make payments to the council? The 0845 telephone number should have been dropped years ago. These haven't been "local rate" calls since 2004. Why has the council failed to change the number?[/p][/quote]An excellent point. Especially for people who only have mobile phones and not land-lines of which there are quite a few, the cost is horrendous. Sigurd Hoeberth
  • Score: 9

12:31pm Sat 12 Apr 14

Ian_SE says...

See also:

http://www.thenorthe
rnecho.co.uk/news/11
144483.Council_dumps
_0845_number/
See also: http://www.thenorthe rnecho.co.uk/news/11 144483.Council_dumps _0845_number/ Ian_SE
  • Score: 6

5:32pm Sat 12 Apr 14

westbaywonder says...

You will pay and you will pay our way!!

As usual no understanding or compassion for normal citizens just trying to survive.
You will pay and you will pay our way!! As usual no understanding or compassion for normal citizens just trying to survive. westbaywonder
  • Score: 6

5:47pm Sat 12 Apr 14

penmick says...

who makes the decisions at this council, the officers or the councillors, Cllr Chapman show some compassion are you happy to rip people off with premium lines. Not everyone is internet ready or like using phones etc, we need to offer a service including face to face cash payments, this council needs to be inclusive not exclusive
who makes the decisions at this council, the officers or the councillors, Cllr Chapman show some compassion are you happy to rip people off with premium lines. Not everyone is internet ready or like using phones etc, we need to offer a service including face to face cash payments, this council needs to be inclusive not exclusive penmick
  • Score: 4

9:35pm Sat 12 Apr 14

Parkstreetshufle says...

Because the councils all about saving money isn't it. They've done such a great job of that. Sack anyone who's on the short list on low pay and cut back on services that are vulnerable. Central command in dorchester is the worst idea. These peoples money has been perfectly good up until now, why should they have to make alternate arrangements.
Because the councils all about saving money isn't it. They've done such a great job of that. Sack anyone who's on the short list on low pay and cut back on services that are vulnerable. Central command in dorchester is the worst idea. These peoples money has been perfectly good up until now, why should they have to make alternate arrangements. Parkstreetshufle
  • Score: 2

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