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Council websites adapt to paid for garden waste collections now that 75% charge for the service

Councils are adapting their websites to accommodate new paid for services like collecting garden waste.

According to Order garden waste collection, the latest survey from Socitm’s Better Connected programme, councils have rapidly introduced charges for collecting garden waste, to the point where three quarters now require payment.
 
Where paid for services have been introduced, the vast majority enable online ordering and payment – although for a small number, ordering and invoicing remain non-digital, with only payment being enabled online. A small number of garden waste collections are completely outsourced.
 
In terms of the quality of the online user experience for residents interested in garden waste collections, Better Connected says that usually, services that involve collection of money (eg pay parking fine, pay council tax) perform well in Better Connected.
 
In this case, perhaps because charging for garden waste is a relatively recent introduction, survey results show that fewer than half (46%) of all sites tested provide a good or very good service.
 
The survey report says that councils need to make it really easy to see whether services are paid for, especially where complex systems are in place involving charging only for collection of second and subsequent bins or bags.
 
It is also important to make it really easy for householders to sign up for services. As Better Connected has pointed out before (eg in connection with payment for parking fines) when people come to a transaction in a negative frame of mind, making the process anything less than simple just adds insult to (perceived) injury.
 
There is an interesting variety in the tones of voice used by councils in describing newly introduced paid for services. Some sound very apologetic about charging, citing austerity and funding cuts. Others are bullish about the ‘excellent value for money’ provided by the council service and the convenience of having the waste collected rather than having to take it to the tip.
 
It is possible that embarrassment about charging explains why some councils hide details of costs in pdf documents that may also contain lengthy terms and conditions. The report says that charges are best made explicit on web pages, along with headline information about how the service works, including collection cycles, how waste should be presented, what won’t be collected, and whether council or householder owns/provides the waste bin or bag(s).
 
Councils should not assume that all website visitors are familiar with the bin collection system since a number will be new residents having to learn a new system that will almost certainly be different from the one they are used to. Consequently, introductory pages should set out how things work as if for a first-time visitor.
 
The survey covered all English and Northern Ireland district councils - just over half of all councils that do kerbside collections - and found that 46%% of them provide a good or very good service for this task, with some excellent practice revealed a number of councils recommended in the report.
 
The Order garden waste collection OR extra bin survey is supported by Jadu, a leading global service provider of web experience management platforms, customer service automation and digital services in the local government sector. Jadu run websites for many UK councils including triple-award website winners Birmingham City Council, Europe’s largest local authority and Manchester City Council, a revolutionary mobile centric, award winning website.
 
Notes for editors
 
Better Connected is owned and was originally developed by Socitm. Since May 2015 it has been run in partnership with Boilerhouse Communications
 
Anyone can access ‘all-council’ reports and individual council headline results from Better Connected surveys at https://betterconnected.socitm.net/
 
Full details of individual council reviews are available to Better Connected subscribers only.