Updated 6 April

How do we keep everyone’s money safe?

Where a shopping recipient (or friend or relative acting on their behalf) is unable to shop online (very few supermarkets now have any slots available), the next option would be for the recipient or their relative to phone a local shop that will take card payments.(The local community group should identify any shops that will take telephone payments and make recipients aware of them).  A volunteer could then collect the paid for shopping providing any pre agreed proofs of identify. If that is not possible, and the volunteer must pay for the shopping, the approach will depend on whether the shopping is a private arrangement between neighbours or one organised by a local group.

Private arrangements: ideally payments should be made by bank transfer or Paypal to minimise the risk of passing on the virus, but if that’s not possible then the recipient could pay by cheque or cash[1].  It is not appropriate for volunteers to accept credit/debit cards from people asking for help in order to buy resources on their behalf as this is a safeguarding risk.

Group arrangements: where the volunteer has been allocated the shopping task and the group has a bank account it would be best practice for the task allocator to establish how the shopping recipient is able to pay for their shopping.  If the recipient can pay online or by telephone banking, payment should be made to the group once the shopping is delivered – this will safeguard the volunteers bank details and the volunteer is then repaid by the group. If this is not possible payment could be made by cheque or by cash to the volunteer.  If a shopping recipient does not have access to remote banking, does not have a relative who can help and does not have cheques or cash available  the group would reimburse the volunteer and invoice the shopping recipient on the understanding that payment would become due once their isolation ends.

Prior to reimbursement volunteers should take a photo of each receipt and create a central record of any payments made. There should also be a central record of any concerns raised in respect of payments and make people aware of how they can raise a concern.

Some groups may be in the position to purchase prepaid cards (most larger retailers have them) that volunteers can use so there is no need for them to be out of pocket and the group then seeks payment from the shopping recipient.

A number of supermarkets have both launched contactless volunteer shopping cards, where the cards are bought online topped up with credit and then a barcode can be emailed to a volunteer which can be used to pay for shopping. AldiAsdaM&SMorrisonsSainsbury’s Marks & Spencer and Waitrose.

Starling Bank are providing a debit card designed to be used by a volunteer who is a close family member to pay for shopping

The'Companion Card' - Natwest, RBS and Ulster Bank has launched a new card designed specifically for people caring for vulnerable people. The card is linked to the person's current account but they can only deposit up to £100 onto the card every five days. Card details, pins etc. are not shared onto the card, and cash withdrawals are limited to £50. 

Post Office Payout – before the pandemic, this system was only available in the Post Office but now many banks and building societies have also signed up. An isolated person asks their bank/building society to send a one-time barcode to the volunteer (it can be text, email or post). The volunteer takes this into the bank/building society, and they can draw out the amount of cash designated to that barcode. Not all banks are doing this, so check with your bank first.  

To reduce the risk of fraudsters imitating community volunteers, recipients should not make any payments until the shopping is delivered with a receipt. We also recommend that volunteers do not make purchases larger than £30 per household.

Setting up to take card payments without a card reader

PayaCharity are able to offer:

The company need to do a ‘know your business check’ (relatively easy for a registered charity), the group need a bank account and an authorised applicant.  They then create a ‘merchant account’ and you are then able to take payments.  There is a card processing payment of 2.3% or 30p minimum.

Other providers are available but PayaCharity offered a clear and straightforward response and once they have the scanned proofs can set an account up by the next day.  CCVS have been talking to their business development manager Mike Greenall mike.greenall@payagroup.co.uk .  He is willing to help groups work out what they need to provide so they can get set up quickly.


[1] The World Health Organisation advised washing hands after handling money but have not issued a warning about using banknotes