Windfall = Holidays & Trips For Boroughs' Poorest Children

Cash won by finance department will benefit underprivileged kids

The department's council tax team has been awarded a £1,000 cash prize by Bacs - the organisation that runs the direct debit system on behalf of the high street banks.

Wandsworth was awarded the money for being the best performer out of all 33 London boroughs in
promoting direct debit as a safe and easy way for people to pay their council tax.

Now the £1,000 is to be passed to the Wandsworth Peace Memorial Trust – a local charity administered by the Mayor of Wandsworth, whose trustees are all former mayors of the borough, which raises money so that local children from deprived backgrounds can enjoy short breaks and day trips.

The charity was set up after the Second World War and in the decades since, many thousands of local children have benefited from this good cause.

The current Mayor Cllr Piers McCausland said: "This is a fantastic windfall for the trust. This money will be well spent in bringing joy and happiness to children from poorer households in the borough who might otherwise not get the chance of a short break or holiday away from London.

"On behalf of the charity and its trustees, I would like to offer my thanks to staff in the council tax section whose good work in devising new and innovative ways of improving their service to residents has secured this dividend."

The finance department is currently in the middle of a new campaign to encourage residents to use the direct debit system to pay their council tax bills. Anyone who signs up to this safe and convenient payment method before July 15 will be automatically entered into a £25,000 prize draw being organised by Bacs.

As well as offering a secure and easy way to pay regular bills, direct debit also reduces costs
for local authorities - so the more people that sign up the bigger the savings are - and these
can be used to help keep council tax bills in Wandsworth the country's lowest.

Using direct debit avoids all the hassle of people having to remember to pay their bill each
month, and as long as there is enough money in their bank account, they should never miss a
payment. Residents who have previously opted for direct debit will also be automatically
entered into the Bacs £25,000 prize draw so they won't miss out on the chance to win this cash

June 2, 2010