Concern grows in the sector over cheque abolition

Age UK says firm proposals are needed now if the timetable is to be met

Cheques: due to be abolished by 2018
Cheques: due to be abolished by 2018

Concern is growing in the voluntary sector that the Payments Council is not on track to make a decision in 2016 about whether cheques should be abolished by 2018.

Age UK says the council has not yet produced any firm alternatives to cheques, and the Institute of Fundraising is worried that the banks "will want to go ahead regardless."

Their remarks follow publication by the council last week of its 10 commitments to cheque users, including an assurance that the council would continue to listen to charities and voluntary organisations to ensure it understood their requirements.

Jane Vass, programme manager at Age UK and a member of the Payments Council Consumer User Forum, told Third Sector that the commitments did not fill Age UK with confidence and things had "hotted up" with their publication.

She said the council needed to come up with concrete ideas for replacing cheques if it was going to be able to work to the deadline of making a decision in 2016 about abolition in 2018.

"A timetable was set out for making a decision on this, but it takes a long time for new payment methods to be adopted," she said.

"Our concern is that, if they are going to do this, then they have a very tight window now. They've got to come up with an idea, test it and see if it works in practice."

"There are no firm alternatives on the table. We need specific, firmed-out proposals."

Age UK is worried that the abolition of cheques would have an impact on many of its beneficiaries who  rely on them for making payments. It is also concerned about a significant impact on donations - 71 per cent of cash gifts are made to it by cheque, according to its recent submission to an inquiry by the Treasury Select Committee.
Louise Richards, director of policy and campaigns at the Institute of Fundraising, who is a member of the Payments Council’s Charity and Voluntary Sector Liaison Group, told Third Sector, she is also concerned about the lack of progress.
She said she understood the council would not go ahead without a viable alternative in place, but thought the banks wanted to save money. "Our concern is that the banks will want to go ahead regardless," she said.

A spokeswoman for the Payments Council said: "We think we're on track, but there's no denying we've set ourselves a challenge. If we don't meet our commitments by 2016, then we won't be confirming closure."


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