A pilot scheme to extend the opening hours of council services in Sandwell will continue for a further six months, at a cost of £100,000, under proposals.
The authority has been running the pilot since October 3 to increase the opening hours of the One Stop Shop at Oldbury Council House.
The £100,000 pilot sees a new opening on Saturdays to make it easier for residents to pay bills.
It has proved such as success that the extension of the scheme was set to be approved at a meeting today.
The standard opening hours are Monday to Thursday, 8am until 5.30pm and Friday from 8am to 5pm. The pilot scheme extended opening hours to 7pm on Wednesdays, and 10am to 1pm on Saturday mornings. However, in December it was agreed that late night opening on Wednesdays would stop due to a low demand.
Between October 3 to February 23, a total of 1,268 customers used the One Stop Shop on a Saturday, with an average of 72 customers each Saturday. The numbers increased week on week to a high of 118 people on December 1.
The highest proportion of customers were for revenue and benefits services, mostly housing benefit, at 51 per cent, followed by cashiers at 32 per cent. Nine per cent were for housing services.
A report to neighbourhoods councillor Mahboob Hussain states: “The aim of the extended opening hours pilot to improve access and customer experience has been met to date, with customer feedback indicating satisfaction for the convenient opening hours and lower waiting times during the extended opening hours compared to weekday opening.
“Waiting times during the week have not been significantly impacted by the extended hours, however, this was expected as the overall number of customers visiting the services has increased and the number of customers using the extended opening hours is a small proportion of the total.”
He will today be recommended to approve the pilot for a further six months.