01:50PM, Thursday 20 September 2018
Cashless methods to donate to the homeless may be introduced across the borough this year.
The ‘alternative methods’, which are a result of fewer people carrying cash, have recieved mixed views from a homeless charity.
Although the planning is still in early stages, Cllr Ross McWilliams (Con, Cox Green), principal member for housing, has distanced the council from 'dystopian' methods, and said he is keen to pilot a contactless payment area where residents can ‘tap in’ and give money to homeless services and charities by the end of the year.
A similar scheme where people can donate money to homeless services and charities, rather than individual people, is currently being trialled in Cardiff.
The plans have been met with some enthusiasm by Sue Brett, who runs the Brett Foundation homelessness charity, but she warned that it must be done properly and transparently for it to work well.
She said: “It would be fantastic for us as a charity to receive payments like that, but if you have a contactless card reader you get charged – we don’t want to pay 25p on every pound we receive.”
“If the council are saying the money is going to ‘services’, that could be another way of them saying they will take the money, it’s a bit ambiguous.
“If I am donating I want to know the charity is getting the money.”
The council are currently looking at different ways to introduce a cashless payment system, with some more controversial than others. Cllr McWilliams has distanced the council from a model that is being used in Oxford, where homeless people wear Quick Response (QR) barcodes around their necks that people can scan and donate to.
He said: “We have looked at QR codes and I thought it treated people like items on a shop shelf.
“You can see why people think its dystopian.”
Ms Brett agreed that the alternative donation methods were a ‘bit’ dystopian, but could be a step in the right direction as more people choose to go cashless.
She said: “When we do collections in supermarkets people say they only have a card, you can see that’s the way forward."
Speaking about introducing the scheme, Cllr McWilliams said: “We wanted to find ways that we can help vulnerable residents.
“We are keen to make sure the charities are all included and brought along with it.
“We want to help these people and we want to enable residents to do their bit.”
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