Oxford City Council is to go cashless across various services in a bid to reduce costs, enhance security and offer a more convenient, 24-hour method of payment for customers.
The council will put in place enhanced systems to accept payment using Direct Debit, BACS and credit and debit cards, though customers will still be able to continue to use cash at PayPoint outlets and Post Office branches across the city.
The cashless and cheque-less scheme is set to save the council in the region of £45,000 a year in handling charges, as well as other efficiency savings arising from streamlining processes.
Oxford City Council has long offered and encouraged cashless payments for many of its services and has consequently seen the number of cash and cheque payments steadily decline.
During the Covid-19 lockdowns, the use of cash and cheque payments has reduced even more rapidly and with the council no longer seeing customers face-to-face, a temporary system of reduced cash and cheque handling was implemented.
It has shown that cash and cheque payments amount to a very small percentage of transactions, totalling 0.52 per cent, but they remain expensive to administer.
The council is also exploring other payment methods, such as using apps and pre-paid cards.
Services that will now become cashless and cheque-less include garden waste, parks and cemeteries fees, legal services, council tax, rents and planning fees respectively.
Once the transfer to cashless payments in these services has been introduced, the council will look at expanding the scheme to cover further services.
An Oxford City Council spokesperson told PSE that the council is “implementing changes in a staged approach so that we can ensure we are not excluding any customers from making a payment to us”.
Commenting, Oxford City Council’s Cabinet Member for Customer Focused Services, Councillor Nigel Chapman said: “The council has long advocated using non-cash or cheque payment as the most cost effective and most secure method.
“There is now an increasing trend for digital payment in most aspects of life. With so little cash and so few cheques being used now, and with the council looking to save money in the wake of the pandemic, we feel the time is right to move entirely to this method when in direct contact with the council.
“Because of the minimal amount of cash and cheque transactions, the impact on customers will be small, but there are those who may still need to pay in cash or cheque and it is important that they still can.
“So the city council will ensure that they will still be able to pay council bills, including rent payments, by using any of the well-established 42 PayPoint facilities spread across Oxford, and at Post Offices.”