Financial Benefits Project Lead
What was the challenge?
Our previous process was to award customers via cash which they had to collect from one of 8 Council offices. The offices were open during business hours 8:30am – 4:30pm Monday to Thursday & 8:30am – 3:40pm on a Friday. The hours available for customers to collect cash was limited as the offices were required to collect cash first from predominantly Council Tax or Rent payments before they could pay any money out. Also, there was a requirement to cash up each evening meaning that final times to collect payments, in particular on a Friday were at 2:30pm
The Scottish Welfare Fund provides emergency financial assistance to those experiencing a crisis. As such it is vital that we are able to provide our customers physical cash in the fastest, most convenient method possible. Our previous process was time consuming, expensive and inconvenient for our customers. Customers could be expected to travel a significant distance in a short time to ensure they have money that evening/weekend.
How PayPoint helped with the challenge:
The implementation of PayPoint meant that we were able to provide cash assistance to customers in a more convenient and timely manner. The ability to issue text messages for our customers to collect their award meant that we eliminated the need for the customer to potentially pay to travel to our office. It also meant that the customer had a more flexible choice when it came to cash collection given that the majority of PayPoint vendors are open from 7am – 11pm. Another benefit came in the form our staff having the ability to issue PayPoint messages during unexpected situations i.e. building closures, extreme weather. An example of this is in February 2018 when all Council offices were closed as a result of significant snow. Some staff were able to work from home remotely and continue to issue payments to customers through the challenging period.
What was the result?
We are now able to provide a much better service to our customers. Our customers have a wider choice of locations and times to collect their awards from. As the majority of Scottish Welfare Fund customers are vulnerable and experience mental or physical health problems the implementation of PayPoint has had a hugely positive impact to them. A reduction in customer expense for travel and less distress caused by the expectancy for them to travel to a Council office has been a huge benefit.
PayPoint also provides a tool to audit the payments issued to our customers which provides more accurate Management Information that we previously did not have.
City of Edinburgh Council has identified a saving of around 30% due to a reduction in front end costs i.e. staff in local offices issuing cash awards and admin tasks related to these.