Cash Office at the London Borough of Hounslow

A report in the names of both my colleague, Councillor Gerald McGregor and I, on changes to the Council’s Cash Office has been called in by the Overview & Scrutiny Committee.

I have seen the reasons for calling in this decision and they are as follows:

  1. Members have not been consulted on this decision, and have had no opportunity to discuss the proposal in a public forum;
  2. The curtailment of this service will have a more severe impact on those on low incomes (i.e. those who do not have access to the internet)
  3. There is a likelihood that this decision will cause a large amount of discontent amongst residents of the Borough.

An initial response to each:

  1. It is ironic that Labour Members are making this comment as it was a Labour Government that vested these decisions in the Executive;
  2. I totally do not accept this.  This is a red herring as anyone who does not have a bank account can still pay in cash at any Post Office or HSBC Branch.  Also, the Cash Office will continue to be open in the morning;
  3. If Councillors falsely imply that we will deny access to those who do not have bank accounts and internet access, I agree that this will happen.

One of many key points here is that many businesses used to have lots of Cash Offices.  I remember a large network of British Gas Cash Offices.  They are gone.  We cannot stand still in areas like these just because we are a Council.  Any changes will be managed and communicated effectively.  It is imperative that we always search for better bite for buck so that we can continue to keep Council Tax down and invest in truly front line services.

If anyone uses this Cash Office and does not believe any other alternative is viable, please post a comment or get in touch with me.

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