Wellingborough Council has teamed up with the Co-operative Bank to allow people to pay their council tax and other council bills at many different locations throughout the borough.
From late spring, people who want to pay in cash will be able to use post offices and PayPoint outlets, giving them access to 30 places to pay their council bills throughout the borough.
The council went through a lengthy tendering process before appointing the Co-operative Bank. The organisation has a proven track record in payment collection, with over 100 other councils throughout the UK already using their system.
Cllr Paul Bell, deputy leader of the council, said: "Our borough is very spread out, and people who want to pay in cash have had to come into the town centre in order to pay their bills in person at the council offices. We wanted to introduce a system that would be more flexible and convenient for all of our customers, and the partnership with the Co-op Bank does that. People can pay in shops and post offices that are near to them and many of these shops will have extended opening hours. It will also help the local economy, as it will encourage people to visit their local shops more - we hope people will be popping into the village grocers for a loaf of bread, a pint of milk, and the payment of their council tax all in one go."
Once the new payment method becomes more established, it is possible that the cash desk facility at the council's offices will close. Employees and customers are being consulted about the proposal at the moment, but closing the cash desk and encouraging more people to use PayPoint outlets, post offices, and direct debit could save the council in excess of £50,000 a year.
Cllr Bell goes on to say: "It's always difficult to bring in new ways of doing something - many of our customers have been using the council's cash desk for years - but we are confident that once people get used to the new system they will appreciate how much more convenient it is to pay their bills where they want, when they want. We will prepare plenty of information for customers to reassure them around concerns such as security and our customer services team will be more than happy to talk people through the changes."
The alternative payment method should be introduced by the end of May.