Cheques should not be abolished before alternatives are offered, charities will tell MPs

Umbrella bodies to tell Treasury Select Committee that many older donors still use cheques

Cheques are to be abolished
Cheques are to be abolished

Cheques should not be abolished until viable alternatives are found, charity representatives will tell the Treasury Select Committee in a written submission this week.

After MPs were inundated with complaints, the cross-party committee of MPs last month reopened an inquiry into the decision by the Payments Council to abolish cheques in 2018.

Louise Richards, director of policy and campaigns at the Institute of Fundraising, one of several umbrella bodies that will submit evidence to the inquiry this week, said that before cheques could be abolished alternatives should be introduced.

"A year ago, we said we were very concerned about this, but no alternatives have been introduced," she told Third Sector. "The situation hasn’t changed since. There’s been nothing at all that gives me any cause for optimism."

Richards said some charities relied on cheque donations for up to 70 per cent of their income and would suffer without viable alternatives.

"It’s a particular problem for charities with older supporters," she said. "The over-65s are a big part of many charities’ donor base."

Zoe Grumbridge, media manager at Help the Hospices, the umbrella body for hospices, said many of her charity’s members made donations by cheque.

"A managed abolition of cheques should take place only if suitable alternatives are identified and are also fully developed and widely available," she said. "We would strongly recommend that the current timeline for the abolition of cheques is reconsidered."

Melora Jezierska, policy officer at the Charity Finance Directors’ Group, said that the Payments Council was saying it would make a final decision on abolition only in 2016, but many CFDG members were being told it was already a certainty.

"There are very inconsistent messages coming out," she said. "A lot of people are worried they’ll lose donations, but they can’t plan for an alternative that doesn’t exist."

The deadline for written submissions is 6 May and oral evidence sessions are expected to start in mid-June.

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