Ajay Parehk’s family was told by their PayPoint rep that their Londis business in Radford, Nottingham, had been identified as a premium outlet to process benefits (it’s in a very poor area). His mother is all for it, but the security aspect worries Ajay. He says anyone ‘in the know’ could be sitting outside in a car watching and waiting… he was under the impression that beneficiaries could nominate the day that they wanted to pick up their money.
He’s been trading there for 32 years and so knows the area inside out. In fact, he says: “Most of those I’ve grown up with have done time.”
I told him I would try to find out what security measures PP is recommending.
His fears somewhat puzzled PP’s spokesman Peter Brooker, who says: “It isn’t clear to me if he’s worried about his own security by having lots of cash on the premises - which he already does as a result of payments made into PayPoint. The benefits payouts will actually reduce the amount of cash he’s holding on the premises as well as lowering his banking charges. His rep will be happy to talk to him about security measures we can offer for the shop as part of our support services.”
He added that PP had done considerable background work with the benefits department to ensure that payments in any area won’t be concentrated in a single store. “With the average number of payment customers per shop likely to be under 15 a week, spread over six days, they will be a tiny proportion of Ajay’s customers, making them impossible to identify, even if his shop handles an above-average number of payments.”
And it does handle a lot - around £2,000 a day!
When I explained to Ajay that he would be paying out the benefits from money he had taken from PP customers it turns out he already knew that.
“I know that and PayPoint knows that. But my customers will see that the post office isn’t paying out from its secure counter any longer, but I am. They will think I have more money.”
Ah, so it is the perception that locals will have. It’s not for nothing that screened PO counters are labelled ‘fortresses’.
Peter Brooker added that the Department for Work & Pensions is spreading the availability of payments for collection over the week (with no obvious logic on what day they fall on, such as address or name) and an individual who is eligible for multiple payments will be able to collect them separately or altogether, providing the amounts collected total less than the daily limit of £600. “What this means is that Ajay’s customers will be able to pick and choose when they collect their money with no set pattern.”
Undoubtedly, there will be retailers in nice-ish areas where security is not going to be a problem. But for others? I can see where Ajay is coming from. He says they will go ahead with the scheme and he will report back on the outcome. And he does have a 14-stone Rottweiler.
Interestingly, later this year, PayPoint will be introducing ‘net settlement’. “Which means that we will be netting the money due to us and the money we pay to retailers (commission, ATM withdrawals, Cash Out, and so on), so that retailers will only need to bank the lower amount for collection.”
Any drop in banking costs will, I am sure, be welcomed.