Headlines: March 13th, 2006

Liverpool City Council has launched its own plastic card for local people to pay their Council Tax bills instead of using payment booklets. The authority believes the card will be an easier and more convenient way to pay.Liverpool residents will be able to use the card to make payments in any of the city’s 113 Post Offices. They will simply hand the card and a payment to a cashier who will swipe it, process the payment and issue a paper receipt. The new service will be free whereas the Post Office charged for processing payments made with the old booklets.

The card initiative also means tax payers can use any Paypoint or Payzone site in a newsagent’s shop or supermarket across the country. Overall the move will increase the number of payment-taking outlets in the city by 240 and, because card payments can be used in shops, payments are possible outside normal banking hours.

Around 152,500 books were issued each year to the 80,000 residents who do not pay their Council Tax by direct debit. Each of them has been given a new book each year. Now they will be issued with a single card that can be kept in a wallet or purse and the City Council expects there will be a big reduction in paperwork that will save thousands of pounds a year and help to protect the environment. The ‘fantastic plastic’ cards will be sent out before the end of the month.

Liverpool City Council’s executive member for resources, Keith Turner, said the card would transform the way people paid their council tax bills and would give them more freedom and choice about where and when to pay. “It’s part of our drive to improve revenue services across the board, using innovation and new technology to make life easier for residents, cut down on waste and provide better value,” he said.