The local authority is a large one, serving the residents of Surrey and the surrounding boroughs and districts and delivering essential services.
Delivering crisis loans to residents in need is a relatively new service that the Council is required to deliver.
In April 2013, the Social Fund was abolished, leaving local authorities suddenly responsible for providing emergency funds to citizens.
SCC’s Customer Interaction Lead Stewart Taylor explained that the abolishment of the Social Fund was not so much a business problem, but rather something that was put upon the Council to deal with.
The authority required a solution that would improve crisis loan recovery rates, but also keep the costs of administering emergency funds as low as possible and ensure they were received by the right people at the right time.
The first six months of the process of finding a solution were spent carrying out consultations with residents, key stakeholders and relevant charities.
It was decided that whatever was procured must offer instant access and support and improve the user experience in turn.
As allpay claims to have years of experience providing payment solutions to local authorities, SCC chose to go with its prepaid cards.
The cards look and feel like debit cards, which the firm claims reduces the stigma of spending emergency funds and reduces possible embarrassment for the end users.
The prepaid cards are also useable in a variety of different locations and allow for online discounts, unlike food banks or vouchers.
According to Taylor, allpay’s solution was very attractive due to the restrictions that can be placed on the prepaid cards – for example, they cannot be used for gambling.
Since implementing allpay prepaid cards, SCC claims it has seen many positive results and benefits, including savings of £100,000 a year in administration costs as there is no longer any need to chase repayments.
Such savings allowed for the Council to award another 2000 payments to its customers, particularly because any unspent money can be recouped.
It is believed money recovered so far equates to 8% of all awards made during the first five months of the scheme.
However, the benefits allpay have brought to the local authority are not just monetary – performance has been improved too.
Fund delivery time has reduced from two days to less than one hour, telephone applications take only 15-25 minutes as opposed to 24-45 and 845 people facing financial crisis were helped in the first five months.