Moving from Cheque to BACS Payment

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  • #21410
    Anonymous
    Guest

    Despite a recent mailshot encouraging our cheque paid customers to provide their bank details and switch to BACS, we still have 2,500 claims set up for cheque payment. The aim is for us to cease paying via cheque by April 2008.

    Please can any LA’s who have been successful in achieving this provide me with some pointers on the best way to go about it – what strategies did you employ? We are contemplating the possibility of using pre-paid cards – has anyone tried these?

    Any advice or comments much appreciated!

    #5200
    ctbaacf
    Participant

    There’s a thread on the LHA forum about pre-paid cards which you might find useful. I don’t know how to attach it but it’s called Alliance & Leicester Pre-Paid Card.

    #5201
    Anonymous
    Guest

    Previous threads seem to suggest that the best ways of going about it include straightforward diktat, bullying and harassment. To be justified by the self-righteous belief that the LA knows what is most convenient for everyone.

    As I’ve argued before, my reading of the regs is that you have to offer at least two alternative payment methods, otherwise how can you be taking the reasonable needs and convenience of everybody into account? (“We only pay by BACS. What’s that, you want a cheque? Don’t be silly, we know what’s most convenient for our administrative costs … oops … I meant to say ‘your convenience'”)

    #5202
    Anonymous
    Guest

    One really quick hit is to review each case and see where Child Benefit and Tax Credits are going- if it`s to an account then you simply mirror this and send the customer a letter telling them that you have done it and to get back in touch if it`s an issue for them.

    #5203
    Anonymous
    Guest

    [quote:d99b35e534=”frielmike”]One really quick hit is to review each case and see where Child Benefit and Tax Credits are going- if it`s to an account then you simply mirror this and send the customer a letter telling them that you have done it and to get back in touch if it`s an issue for them.[/quote:d99b35e534]Thanks, that’s something I can look into straight away.

    #5204
    Anonymous
    Guest

    … but Mike, can we legitimately do this? Is there any legislation out there that permits us to take these bank details and apply payment via BACS. Have any LA’s out there adopted this tact and what was the response from the claimants? 😯

    #5205
    cbuck
    Participant

    Could be a bit risky with 25 million people rushing out to close the bank account that CHB is paid into!

    #5206
    lyndah
    Participant

    We have acheived about 75% BACS since June. We have sent out BACS with most chqs, and now we have fewer we have sent SAEs. Where we require further info we also bring their attention to BACS payments.

    If someone wants to collect a cheque or asks for a delivery to ensure receipt, we use a bit of a stick and say we will do it as long as they sign a BACS!

    We’ve also used postal strikes and now the annual seasonal postal delays as an arguement for BACS

    #5207
    Anthony Sandys
    Participant

    We’ve got 10 people left still being paid by cheque and will be withdrawing this as an option for payment from April. We’re supporting these people in obtaining bank accounts and setting up BACS payments.

    We know at least one of these people cashes their cheques at one of these cheque shops (with a £15 fee each time). That’s hardly what I’d call convenient for the customer.

    #5208
    jmembery
    Participant

    I am with andy_u_i on this one. IMO any LA that insists on payment by BACS is acting contrary to the law as it currently stands for HB.

    I don’t see any problem with “selling” BACS to a customer by explaining the advantages (quite a few of our customers moved to BACS when the postal strike was called) but I just don’t see that the law allows us to insist.

    As to the argument that an LA is better placed than the customer to know what is convenient for that customer, I have to say I am unconvinced.

    #5209
    Anonymous
    Guest

    And, for what it’s worth, I will add my fourpennorth to Andy and Jeff on the “you can’t force people” side.
    As someone with slightly anarchistic tendancies, if I was a claimant and if some of the above suggestions had been “done” I would definately be both trying to appeal against the decision to pay in that way and contacting my local councillor to complain about coercian.
    I just cannot see that administrative easiness (which, let’s face it, paying by BACS is for local authorities) can necessarily be equated to the best needs and convenience of the customer.
    It just rather smacks of Big Brother to me (and that isn’t a reference to any naff reality tv show on Channel 4) 😉 8)

    #5210
    Anonymous
    Guest

    Jon, not that I’m disagreeing with you but wasn’t there a CD (I/S decision) that said methods of payment was an “administrative” decision that didn’t carry the right of appeal?

    I know I’ve seen it, I just can’t lay my hands on it. 😳

    #5211
    Anonymous
    Guest

    [quote:8584cbc1ab]wasn’t there a CD (I/S decision) that said methods of payment was an “administrative” decision that didn’t carry the right of appeal?[/quote:8584cbc1ab]

    That may well be the case for IS, but then I can’t see anything in the IS Regulations or primary legislation that is equivalent to Reg 91 of the HBR.

    That said, the schedule to the DAR shows that there is no right of appeal to a [b:8584cbc1ab]Tribunal[/b:8584cbc1ab] in respect to a decision made under Reg 91, but that does not preclude a complaint (ultimately, to the Ombudsman) concerning maladministration on the grounds of coercion, or judicial review on the grounds of unreasonableness.

    I would also suggest that any authority which used “no right of appeal” to impose what is most convenient for itself is hardly applying the spirit of Reg 91. (Not that Martin is suggesting such a thing.)

    #5212
    Anthony Sandys
    Participant

    Isn’t this the same as the DWP saying to all it’s customers, “we’re paying benefit directly into your bank accounts from now on, sorry no more giros and order books”? Not exactly new and not exactly Big Brother either (sorry, but I think this is all a bit melodramatic)

    Just playing devil’s advocate, but can someone tell me why sending a chaeque that has to be paid into a bank account is more convenient than paying it direct into the same account and sending a payment advice each time we do so?

    #5213
    Anonymous
    Guest

    No, I don’t think it is the same as the DWP situation, because there does not appear to be any requirement for the DWP to take the “reasonable needs and convenience” of its customers into account when paying IS, JSA etc, whereas that requirement is specified in respect to HB.

    “Big Brother” references may be a little melodramatic, but an attitude of “we’re doing it this way, like it or lump it” does smack a little of a Government department throwing its weight around. Having anarcho-syndicalist sympathies myself I find that a little distasteful.

    Why would a cheque be more convenient than a BACS payment? Well, for someone who’s daft enough to cash their cheque at Cheque-U-Like I agree that BACS would probably be a better option for them. On the other hand, with the small matter of those missing HMRC discs and the DWP’s admission that a load of HBMS data sent to it by local authorities has gone AWOL, I imagine there might be one or two ornery-minded individuals out there who might think twice about entrusting their bank details to any public body.

    A lot of people are, in any case, not at ease with the idea of BACS. I well remember the chap who sent a Council Tax direct debit form, issued with the annual bills, back to the authority I was then working for. On the back of it, in green crayon (really) he had written “You’re not getting your hands on my money you b*stards”.

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