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Jobs fears in Ryedale council payments offices shake-up
THREE local council offices in Ryedale could close under a payments shake-up which is aimed at saving more than £50,000 a year.
Ryedale District Council is considering shutting its area offices in Helmsley, Pickering and Kirkbymoorside, used by residents to pay bills, and introducing a new “barcode” system allowing more people to make payments at post offices and other shops.
The proposals will be discussed by the authority’s policy and resources committee next week. The closure of the offices is the preferred option, but officials have said this could lead to redundancies among their staff.
A report by Clare Slater, the council’s head of corporate services, said people could currently pay bills by touch tone phone, direct debit and online, as well as at post offices and the cashiers’ desks at the three local offices and Ryedale House in Malton . In 2011/12, 8,578 payments totalling £1.26 million were made in person at the three area offices.
She said the changes would mean barcodes being included on all council bills and invoices so they could be paid at any of Ryedale’s 28 post offices – including outreach, home and mobile services – or its 13 Pay Point outlets.
Implementing the scheme would cost £13,000 in the first year of its operation and £6,400 a year afterwards, but shutting the offices would save £64,500.
This would reduce council costs by £51,500 during the first 12 months after the changes and £58,100 annually from then on.
“The need to make service cuts to balance the (2013/14 council) budget is almost certain, and the proposed change identifies a significant savings opportunity which increases the number of outlets at which payments can be made, and has the additional benefit of providing footfall and support for the post-office network in Ryedale,” said the report.
“There would be a reduction in staff hours, which would be managed through the council’s redeployment and redundancy policy, but could ultimately result in redundancies.”
The other options are to make no changes or to introduce the barcode scheme but retain the local offices, which would mean extra costs.
A final decision will be made by the full council.