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Direct Debit campaigns drive efficiencies for local authorities

January 14, 2016

A London-wide campaign has delivered an impressive £2.5 million in cost savings for local authorities since 2010, simply by increasing the number of people paying council tax by Direct Debit.

The campaign, run by Bacs Payment Schemes Limited (Bacs) – the not-for-profit organisation behind Direct Debit in the UK –has seen councils across the capital benefit from the efficiencies delivered through increasing the number of those switching to Direct Debit.

Last year alone, the initiative delivered savings in the region of £450,000 for the 16 participating authorities, at a time when budgets continue to come under increasing strain. Thanks to the collective nature of the campaign, which ran between March and July, there was once again a £25,000 prize draw open all new and existing Direct Debit payers to incentivise moving to the payment method.

As a result of the continued success of the campaign, 2015 also saw local authorities in Yorkshire launch a similar joint initiative for the very first time, with Bradford, Calderdale, Doncaster and Kirklees getting involved. The campaign offered a consumer prize of £6,000 for those paying by Direct Debit, with participating councils benefiting from savings of over £170,000.

Processing Direct Debit payments is cheaper and more efficient for organisations than alternative methods such as cheque and cash. And, while the ease and certainty of Direct Debit makes collecting payments this way particularly attractive, bill payers can also benefit, avoiding queues to make payments and the hassle of filling in and sending cheques.

Dawneth Perry, Bacs’ local authority sector specialist, said: “It’s particularly pleasing to see the savings delivered since 2010 across the capital surpass the £2.5 million mark. With the combined efforts of local authorities in London and Yorkshire achieving a saving of £620,000 in 2015, these sort of initiatives have demonstrated how effective they are in encouraging council tax payers to switch to Direct Debit.

“At a time when budgets are under continued pressure, there has never been a better time to Iook at the potential savings on offer through increasing the number of residents and businesses paying by Direct Debit.”

Nick Rowe, Strategic Finance Partner – Local Tax and Accounts Receivable for Ealing Council said: “This is the sixth year that local authorities across London have worked together to increase Direct Debit rates and drive efficiencies and, once again, the campaign has been a huge success. Last year alone the campaign has delivered a collective efficiency saving of just short of £450,000, with £2.5 million in savings generated since 2010.

“Thanks to the co-ordination and expert consultation offered by Bacs the campaign really is painless for the participating local authorities and it is this support, allied with the compelling results, which continues to make the initiative such an attractive proposition.”

Cllr Steve Sweeney, Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities, said: “Calderdale Council is one of four Yorkshire councils that took part in the Direct Debit campaign, and this is the first time that the initiative has run across Yorkshire. By working together, sharing expertise and pooling resources, we were successful in achieving great collective savings.

“The support and co-ordination of Bacs has proved to be particularly effective in increasing Direct Debit rates and delivering the associated savings - money which can be used to the benefit of all residents.”

The 16 London local authorities taking part in 2015 were Barnet, Bexley, Brent, City of Westminster, Ealing, Enfield, Hammersmith and Fulham, Haringey, Harrow, Hounslow, Islington, Kensington and Chelsea, Lambeth, Lewisham, Southwark and Tower Hamlets.

Any organisation interested in how Direct Debit could work for them should contact Dawneth Perry – d.perry@bacsservices.co.uk

For further press information, please contact:

Damion Clark at Real PR (Consultants) LLP. Tel: 01353 667934 or 07789 911314 Email:  damion@realpublicrelations.com

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