Every Reading resident will be offered the option of receiving their council tax bill by email next year.
From April 2014, council tax payers will have the additional option of logging into their own personal account online where they can view their bill, check balances or set up a regular direct debit payment. Where residents prefer to continue to receive a paper bill instead, they would still be sent one.
Offering people the chance to receive and pay bills online not only provides residents with an option they did not previously have, it also reduces the environmental impact of sending out paper bills and cuts costs at a time of significant financial pressure on all local Councils.
There are a whole host advantages to e-billing as an additional way to receive and pay bills. For residents, it offers them another way of paying, they can view their bills and updated balances at anytime just by logging into their account, and they can print out their bills at home should they choose to. For the Council, e-billing reduces cost, it reduces the environmental impact of paper bills and it helps to meet customer expectations, many of who are already used to dealing with bills and payments online.
Jo Lovelock, Reading Borough Council Leader, said: “It is fairly common practise these days for people to be given the option of receiving and paying bills electronically. Modern technology now allows us to do this and residents would expect the Council to offer them this option. People who would prefer to continue to receive a paper copy of their bill would still be sent one.”
For residents who choose to switch to e-billing, it means that in March 2014, instead of receiving a bill via post, they will receive an email advising them that their bill is now ready to view online. The email will tell residents how to log in and view their bill. They can then at this point choose to print their bill themselves, download it to their own personal files, or simply view the bill online. They will also be able to access this bill at any other time convenient to them.
Reading Borough Council already holds many residents’ email addresses. Over the next few months Council officers will be contacting those residents to inform them they will receive next year’s Council tax bill by email unless they opt out, and the process for that will be explained. At the same time, over the next few months the Council will be widely publicising its new e-billing facility during face-to-face or phonecall conversations with people, with the aim of adding their names to the growing list of residents and businesses who choose to receive their bills electronically.
Where people do want to access their bills electronically but do not have internet access, they would be signposted to using PCs which are available in their local library, at the Civic Centre or at other internet access points across Reading.