Shropshire Star

Age UK offers support as Shropshire Council takes further step to becoming fully digital

A charity says it has witnessed a surge in enquiries from older people needing online help.

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Shropshire Council is going cashless

Age UK Shropshire Telford & Wrekin says it is ready to support those needing assistance to access services online, following Shropshire Council’s decision to become a ‘digital council’.

Earlier this week, the council revealed its intention to go cashless from April next year, as part of its strategy to become fully digital.

It claims the switch will have the benefit of increased efficiencies across the council, and the services being able to adapt more quickly to meet customer demands.

As a result cash will be removed from transactions, including council tax payments and parking. Anyone wanting to pay bills with cash will be able to do so but only through third-party transactions such as their Post Office or PayPoint.

Age UK says it has 'raised concerns' over the move to become more digitally focused.

Last year launched its Digital Inclusion Service to assist older people getting online, and Robert Smith, information and advice manager of Age UK Shropshire Telford & Wrekin, said: “We are seeing an increase in the number of older people calling on us to help them access services online.

"We are aware this is a huge barrier for people accessing the help they need.

"I would urge anyone to get in touch with us by writing to our campaigns team or telephoning us if they have experienced difficulties accessing services which are only available online.”

Mr Smith added: “We have raised our concerns about the local authority’s move to become more digitally focused, and the negative impact this will have on a large number of older people in our county who don’t have the means to access these services.”

Gwilym Butler, Shropshire Council’s cabinet member for finance and corporate resources, said: “Post-pandemic business evidence is that fewer and fewer people are using cash and cheques to make their day-to-day purchases and complete larger transactions.

“The increased use of banking apps and smart technology by consumers means that most people routinely carry less than £5 in real cash, so we are looking at ways we can adapt and support the switch to the digital economy.”

Anyone who would like support, can call Age UK Shropshire Telford & Wrekin on 01743 233123.