Automating Direct Debit payments for UK local authorities

Harness the power of Direct Debit automation via GoCardless


Direct Debit has the potential to play a key role in the drive towards repetitive process automation among the UK’s local authorities.

According to recent research from iGov Survey, conducted on behalf of business outsourcing firm Arvato, more than half of public sector senior managers say their organisation has considered adopting process automation technology during the past year.

The research study questioned 134 senior staff in 118 public sector organisations and departments about their use of robotic process automation. It found that 21% of government employees are expecting to see automation – which uses software to carry out routine, standardised tasks – trialled in their departments over the next 12 months.

There are a range of driving factors behind this trend towards increased process automation. For example, reductions in staff numbers, amid a general financial squeeze, combined with increasing pressure for local authorities to create better and more citizen-facing services. Thanks to budget cuts, there are no longer enough staff to conduct repetitive tasks (and few would want to). In an age where most sectors are going digital, it makes sense for local authorities to let tech take the strain, turning to automated processes to handle the most repetitive of tasks.

When it comes to collecting payment for services, optimising the payment solution is an important consideration for local authorities. Issues such as customer churn, cumbersome sign-up forms and admin heavy processes can easily be avoided by switching to an automated Direct Debit provider. This also has the benefit of ensuring customers can pay easily, online, and in instalments if they so wish.

Taking credit or debit card payments online runs the risk of card expiry, which means setting up the payment all over again. This is inconvenient for both local authorities and their residents. Using Direct Debit overcomes all these potential problems, making it a far better choice than credit or debit cards. But, although it’s known for its reliability, the traditional Direct Debit system still involves inconvenient and outdated processes. That’s where GoCardless comes in, offering a ‘set and forget’ approach to handling Direct Debit, making collecting payments simple and flexible.

"GoCardless helped us to set up an online Direct Debit solution in a matter of weeks. The API was really easy to work with and it saved us having to invest in a bespoke solution that would have taken a number of months to introduce."

"We’ve seen around 60% of our customers chose to pay by Direct Debit so next year, they won’t have to spend time renewing their subscription as it’ll all be taken care of for them" said Lee Sirdifield, Strategic Lead Programme Delivery for South Kesteven District Council.

Peterborough City Council is another example of a local authority that has successfully used GoCardless to automate payments, helping save up to £800,000 in taxpayers' money. When the council first introduced its new garden waste tax three years ago, it was complicated to integrate the new charge with Peterborough’s existing payment services provider. Luckily, GoCardless stepped in with a quick and easy solution.

“With GoCardless it was really quick to setup and integrate with our existing systems, and has worked smoothly since. The lower processing costs means we can be more efficient with our budget and with automatic payments renewal, residents don’t need to worry about making the payments on time,” said James Collingridge of Peterborough City Council.

“We knew residents might have concerns about the charge and so we had to get it right.”

For local authorities, GoCardless is useful for much more than just automating garden waste payments. Our system can be used for any situation where a local authority needs to collect recurring payments via Direct Debit. Using GoCardless cuts out setup and admin hassles, enables full flexibility on payment timings, while offering some of the lowest fees around. GoCardless also integrates with Jadu and Civica, allowing you to harness Direct Debit power on the platforms you already know well.

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