Digitising payments to support young people and their families



The Challenge?

For many years cash payments have been made in order to provide financial assistance to families, which requires a lot of administration and accounting resource; however, from Monday 27th September the Local Authority will be changing how it provides this support.  The challenge is simple: to enable cash payments to be issued at many locations across the Blackburn with Darwen borough, making the service more flexible in meeting citizen's needs, whilst harnessing digital to reduce the level of resource required in the processing of payments and audit.

The Current process…..

In order to be provided with financial assistance young people and their families must come into one of our council offices - which often means an additional journey into the town centre on public transport - between 8.45am and 5pm, Monday to Friday. This can be quite time consuming and inconvenient!  At the end of each day the cash tin will be balanced by an administrator and a full reconciliation undertaken for the finance department each Friday, which can in itself often require a significant amount of time.

The New Process….

In order to enable cash payments to be digitised the Local Authority have partnered with a company called Pay Point. Pay Point is a digital payment organisation and have 70+ outlets across the Blackburn with Darwen footprint alone, predominantly based in shops and petrol stations. Read more about Pay Point here and click here to see where your nearest store is.

A few BwD employees have been issued with credentials for a Pay Point portal and when a payment is required they will access it using two-factor authentication and key in the citizens mobile phone number and the value of the payment.  Once sent, the citizen will receive an SMS which can be taken in to any Pay Point store where the barcode will be scanned and either a cash payment or energy card top-up provided. 

What are the benefits….

Through implementing Pay Point there will be benefits to both the Local Authority and the citizen.  For the citizen we will be able to provide cash assistance in a more convenient and timely manner and by enabling our out of hours team to have access to the portal emergency payments can be made 24/7, ensuring cash payments or energy card top-ups can be received quickly by those families in need outside of standard business hours.  This means a citizen will no longer need to travel to a council office to collect the payment, instead collecting at their convenience from their closest possible Pay Point outlet. 

This also benefits the Local Authority and future-proofs against any unexpected future restrictions we may face, such as building closures, adverse weather or public transport issues etc. by allowing the payments to be made by an employee from anywhere whilst knowing that the citizen can collect the payment from their nearest store.

Furthermore, the Local Authority will also be able to rationalise our administrative payments processeses, with these reductions in effort being redirected to front-line services and reduce general risks around cash handling, whether it be collecting cash from the bank or day to day handling and accounting.

By Matthew Cartledge on 22nd Sep 2021
Matt is a Business Analyst at Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council