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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 06/01/2004
Electronic Payments (Receipts)



Summary & Purpose
The purpose of this report is to outline the requirement to improve the service offered to the Council’s customers who wish to make payments over the telephone or via the Council’s website and to recommend a preferred technical solution.

Quality of Life Implications
Natural Resource Use
Pollution Prevention and Control
Biodiversity and Nature
Local Environment
Social Inclusion
Safe Communities
Local Economy
Natural
Resource Use
Pollution
Prevention and Control
Biodiversity
and Nature
Local
Environment
Social
Inclusion
Safe, Healthy
and Active
Communities
Local
Economy
N/A
Positive
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Positive
Positive
N/A


APPENDIX E
WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL
EXECUTIVE – 6TH JANUARY 2004

Title:
ELECTRONIC PAYMENTS (RECEIPTS)
[Wards Affected: All]

Note pursuant to Section 100B(5) of the Local Government Act 1972:

The Annexe to this report contains exempt information by virtue of which the public is likely to be excluded during the item to which the report relates, as specified in those paragraphs of Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972 viz:-

Summary and purpose:

The purpose of this report is to outline the requirement to improve the service offered to the Council’s customers who wish to make payments over the telephone or via the Council’s website and to recommend a preferred technical solution.

E-Government implications:

The facility for customers to make payments electronically, over the telephone or via the internet, is one of the key measures by which a Council’s progress towards achieving the ODPM’s e-Government targets is assessed.

Resource and legal implications:

The costs of implementing the preferred solution can be contained within the 2003/04 IEG Capital Programme provision for Electronic Receipts.

The recommended solution also puts less demand upon Waverley’s internal IT resource.

Background

1. Two of the key factors driving the “e-Government” initiative are the improvement of service delivery to the public and the exploitation of technology to increase efficiency. Improvement of service delivery should be in response to customers demand.

2. The facility for customers to pay over the phone by debit or credit card was introduced in 1997. The volume of payments made by phone has increased by an average of 30% each year and is expected to reach 26,000 transactions during 2003/04 with an estimated value of over 3.5 million. And this does not reflect the complete picture. As telephone payments can currently be made via only four specific telephone extension numbers on weekdays between 10.00 am and 4.45 pm, the Council is aware, through an increasing number of complaints, that there are a number of customers who wish to pay in this way who cannot get through because the line is engaged.

3. The Council does offer an alternative method of payment for customers who wish to pay “electronically” via its website. The Council currently subscribes to Girobank’s BillPay facility which enables customers to pay online via a link from Waverley’s website. This service was introduced in 2001. In the past year approximately 1,000 payments, worth over 125,000, have been made in this way. This relatively low take-up is probably due to three factors:-

BillPay can only accept payments for Council Tax, Rents and Car Park Fines;

BillPay can only accept debit card payments; and

The BillPay website is not particularly easy to use.

4. In order to respond to increasing public demand to make payments over the telephone, to make better use of our website as a channel for receiving payments and to deliver the Council’s e-Government strategy, an investigation of the various technical solutions has been carried out.

The Council’s Requirements re e-Payments

5. In order to address the issues identified above, the Council would need to be able to:-

Accept debit and credit card payments via the Council’s intranet. This would enable any authorised officer (e.g. Planning reception staff) to accept payments, via their own PC, from customers in person or over the phone (thereby relieving the pressure on the Council’s current telephone payments line);

Have the potential to be able to accept automated telephone payments, thereby providing a “24/7” service to its customers; and

Accept debit and credit card payments for all services via the Council’s website.

6. Any technical solution to the above should also:-

conform with bank requirements for accepting card payments for both customer present (including issuing a receipt) and customer not present;

enable automatic posting of transactions to Waverley’s Income system;

have the facility to add a handling charge to the value of the transaction should the Council choose to do so; and

be capable of being upgraded to accept automatic telephone payments.

7. In brief, there are three ways the Council might achieve the above in terms of technology:-

Enhance its current cash receipting system. The suppliers of this system offer a range of “add-ons” to its basic package to automate card payments over the intranet, internet and telephone; or

Purchase a debit and credit card authorisation and clearance system; or

Subscribe to the services of a Payment Service Provider (PSP).

8. There are a number of PSPs in the marketplace, including Girobank’s BillPay and BT’s Buynet, but these only support payments via the internet and do not, therefore, satisfy the Council’s requirements.

9. All of the leading suppliers of local authority cash receipting systems offer additional modules to their core systems to support electronic payments. Our current supplier is one of the market leaders in this field. As acquiring electronic payments modules from any supplier other than our current one would require the purchase of an additional cash receipting system, or the significant components of one, theirs is the only “cash receipting enhancement” solution considered in this report.

10. After looking at the market place your officers have been able to identify only one supplier of a debit and credit card authorisation and clearance system that exactly matches the Council’s requirements.

11. Evaluation of the technical solutions offered by the two suppliers identified is set out at (Exempt) Annexe 1.

Resource Implications

12. The cost of the e-payments system recommended in the (Exempt) Annexe to this report can be met from the provision of 25,000 for Electronic Receipts in the 2003/04 IEG Capital Programme.

Recommendation

In the light of the arguments set out at (Exempt) Annexe 1, your officers recommend that the Council purchase Adelante’s SmartPay package to facilitate the receipt of payments from customers over the phone and via the Council’s website and that the cost of purchase and implementation be met from the provision of 25,000 for Electronic Receipts in the 2003/04 IEG Capital Programme.

Background Papers (DoF)

There are no background papers (as defined by Section 100D(5) of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to this report.

CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: Lawrence Heath Telephone: 01483 523084

E-mail: lheath@waverley.gov.uk

comms/executive/2003-04/405