BACS AWARDS SET TO RECOGNISE FURTHER IMPROVEMENTS IN COUNCIL TAX COLLECTION


Local Authorities that have made tangible improvements in their Council Tax collection rates during the last year need look no further for recognition! Today, Bacs – the not-for-profit, industry body behind Direct Debit and Bacs Direct Credit – has launched its annual Local Authority (LA) Direct Debit Challenge Awards.


[UKPRwire, Fri Apr 27 2007] Local Authorities that have made tangible improvements in their Council Tax collection rates during the last year need look no further for recognition! Today, Bacs – the not-for-profit, industry body behind Direct Debit and Bacs Direct Credit – has launched its annual Local Authority (LA) Direct Debit Challenge Awards.

The Bacs LA Direct Debit Challenge Awards programme is designed to reward UK Council Tax collection teams that have actively increased the use of Direct Debit in their local area and improved overall awareness of the benefits inherent in using automated payments. Since they were first introduced, Bacs’ awards have achieved industry notoriety, with previous winners cited as champions of best practice in payment collection by organisations including The Audit Commission.

This year there are nine Bacs Local Authority Direct Debit Challenge Awards available in four distinct categories:
The first six accolades come under the banner of Council Tax and will be given to local authorities that can demonstrate the greatest percentage growth in Direct Debit usage between 1 July 2006 and 30 June 2007.
The next available award is for Business Rates. This recognises Councils that have seen the highest increase in Direct Debit penetration from commercial customers in the preceding 12 months. There will be one sole winner in this area.
This year there is also a New Entrant award targeting Councils that have not previously entered the programme. The winner will be the Local Authority that can demonstrate the greatest percentage increase in Direct Debit usage within their local area.
Finally, and in recognition of the creative flair Councils often demonstrate in promoting Direct Debit, Bacs will recognise a single Council in the Marketing Campaign Achievement category.

Commenting on the 2007 launch, Michael Chambers, managing director at Bacs, said: “In 2006, more than 142 million Council Tax and Business Rates payments were made by Direct Debit – this is a record figure and the fifth consecutive year in which we have seen an increase. With Councils collectively spending an estimated £1 billion on chasing payments every year*, encouraging commercial and residential tax payers to adopt Direct Debit as their preferred payment method can offer Councils huge operational efficiencies. We are delighted that an increasing number of local authorities are taking this on board. Since their inception in the early 1990s, our LA Direct Debit Challenge Awards have rewarded over 110 Councils. We are always delighted with the volume of entrants to the programme, the enthusiasm demonstrated and the calibre of submissions. We look forward to receiving record entries this year and to working more closely with organisations in the sector in the future.”

The Bacs LA Direct Debit Challenge Awards are free to enter and open to all Local Authorities in the UK. In order to ensure the awards are judged fairly, local authorities will be measured against organisations with a similar profile and reach. To find out which category your authority falls into, interested parties should go to: www.bacs.co.uk/directdebit/challenge. Submitting an entry is easy. Authorities interested in participating can download a Bacs LA Direct Debit Challenge Award entry form from www.bacs.co.uk/directdebit/challenge. The final closing date for submissions is 3rd August 2007.

All entrants will be put forward for a free prize draw where money can be won for the local authorities’ charity of choice. Entrants submitting their forms before 13th July could win £500, those received by 27th July will be in with a chance of winning £250 and participants that enter before the final closing date of 3rd August could win £100. Entries submitted early will be entered into all three draws.

The nine award winners will be notified in advance and the results will be officially announced at an awards ceremony at the IRRV Annual Conference in Brighton, in October.

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* Figure obtained from Audit Commission Report – Improving Income Collection – May 2006

About Bacs:
Bacs is a not-for-profit, membership based industry body which is owned by 13 of the leading banks and building societies in the UK and Europe. For almost 40 years, Bacs has been at the heart of the payments industry, and is responsible for the schemes behind the clearing and settlement of automated payments in the UK and maintaining the integrity of payment related services. Bacs will also develop and manage the scheme for direct corporate and bureau access to the Faster Payments processing infrastructure, employing expertise and elements from its current solution set.

More than 5.5 billion payments a year are made by Bacs principle schemes, Direct Debit and Bacs Direct Credit, equating to approximately £3.4 trillion in 2006. Almost three quarters of British adults are positively disposed towards Bacs: 35 million adults now have at least one Direct Debit commitment and approximately 115,000 businesses use Bacs services. Selected as a 2007 Business Superbrand, Bacs is recognised as one of the strongest B2B brands in Britain today.

Membership of the Bacs Affiliate Interest Group (AIG), a communication forum for payment scheme users and stakeholders, continues to grow. Its chief aim is to provide interested parties with the opportunity to receive updates on and provide feedback to developments within Bacs, including regulatory changes and their implications.

For further information please visit www.bacs.co.uk.

More about Direct Debit:
A Direct Debit is an instruction from a customer to their bank or building society authorising an organisation to collect varying amounts from their account. This can be used to ensure regular, safe and efficient payments of anything from household bills to charitable donations. Over 2.7 billion Direct Debit payments are processed by Bacs a year and 75 per cent of adults now have at least one Direct Debit commitment. For further information on how to set up a Direct Debit to help keep accounts in order, please contact your bank or building society.

More about Bacs Direct Credit:
Bacs Direct Credit is mainly used for paying wages and salaries - in fact over 90 per cent of the UK workforce is paid via Bacs Direct Credit. In total, Bacs Direct Credit is used for paying four million wages every week and nearly 25 million salaries a month.

Company: Bacs


Contact Name: Becky Lamont

Contact Email: becky.lamont@war.uk.com

Contact Phone: 01223 557601

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