Cabinet will consider launching three consultations which focus on increasing the number of services that can be paid for online, at a meeting on Monday 10 July 2017.
These proposals include changing the way the majority of people pay for residential parking permits and taxi licenses to online only through the council’s website.
Another consultation sets out the council’s vision of a greater emphasis on digital payments which could include no longer providing a cash office.
In the coming years the proposals aim to bring the council in line with the same digital and automated methods that many residents use for other services such as banking, paying for utility bills, new welfare claims and online shopping.
The council, however, would continue to engage and support vulnerable customers to ensure that they can pay for services through alternative methods and are not disadvantaged by any changes proposed.
Although the proposed strategy encourages making payments by automated or digital methods there remains over 50 locations throughout the city (i.e. banks, Payzones and Post Offices), with longer opening hours, that will accept payments for council services by cheque, cash and credit/debit cards.
As part of the council’s Front Door Project, the proposals for future parking permit payments include replacing the current paper-based system with an online e-permit portal accessed through the council’s website where customers would be able to apply, purchase and activate parking permits. For residents unable to use online methods there will remain ways for them to pay for permits.
Similarly, for taxi licences, it is proposed to replace the current paper based taxi licensing system with an online licensing system. The online system will be accessed through the council’s website and allow customers to apply and pay for their taxi licences, badges and vehicle plates.
Councillor John Holdich, leader of the city council, said: “The council issued bills and invoices to customers and residents in excess of £230 million last year - which is around one million individual transactions with the council. As the city grows these will only increase so there is a growing need to allow people to self-serve when accessing council services.
“We are aware that although the majority of residents and customers choose to use digital payments already, such as direct debit and online payments, that not all residents will be able to use new methods as easily as others. We already provide a range of support including digital inclusion programmes and free access to computers in libraries and community hubs and we are committed to ensuring residents have the support in place that they need.
"No decisions have been made and I encourage residents to take part in the consultation so we can hear a wide range of views."
There are already a range of automated and digital channels that are accessible now for some services and are being developed for other services as part of the Front Door project including:
- automated touch tone payments whereby the customer phones a dedicated free phone number to make payment
- direct debit
- using the internet to make payment via a range of options such as logging onto the council’s self-serve ‘My account’, the council’s website, PayPal and ApplePay
Cabinet are set to launch the consultations after 11 July 2017 with a closure date of 20 September at 5pm.
The results of the consultations will be reported back to Cabinet on 25 September for formal agreement on the strategy, including the future of the cash office, and a decision on the online taxi licensing and parking permit systems.
The cabinet report in full is on the council's democracy website.