The service was prompted by the effect of ongoing austerity measures on welfare recipients, who sometimes require emergency payments to help them get them through severe circumstances.
The system uses vouchers rather than cash. According to PayPoint, vouchers not only reduce the security risk, but they are easier for recipients to manage and redeem. In the U.K., checks can be redeemed only through an individual's own checking account, which not everyone possesses.
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The Quick Credit Voucher service is accessible via a specially-designed Web portal. Vouchers are issued to needy clients in the form of a physical piece of paper, an email, or an electronic version sent via SMS. Recipients may redeem vouchers at any one of the 25,000 neighborhood PayPoint terminals and receive their funds instantly. Vouchers can also be issued for energy credits, redeemable only on utility bills.
The goal, according to PayPoint, is to put control in the hands of the authorities so they can better help individual hardship cases, as well as offer more efficiency and visibility in managing such situations.
PayPoint's management has full visibility of the status of all vouchers and can verify whether they have been correctly issued, redeemed, expired or rejected. For example, each voucher has a limit of £100 ($152) -- £49 ($74) for energy credits -- and each staff member is able to issue only a limited number of vouchers per day. In addition, only assigned supervisors have the authority to approve raised vouchers.
A spokeswoman for Milton Keynes Council said, "We required a tool that would help us administer the funds and effectively serve our community. We receive urgent requests from individuals who are in need of emergency funds, and PayPoint offered us a fast and secure way for issuing the necessary payments and vouchers after applications had been assessed."
Andrew Goddard, retail director at PayPoint U.K. & Ireland, added, "Our retailers are close to residents' homes and are open early to late, seven days a week, making accessing these payments safe, easy and convenient for the most vulnerable members of society." Since its launch in April, Goddard said, more than 50 councils are now using the portal.