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Cheques remain under threat, says charity

Cheques remain under threat, says charity

Category: Money

Updated: 08/08/2011
First Published: 08/08/2011

This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

The future of cheques remains in the balance with definite plans needed to restore the public's faith in the payment option, it has been warned.

Despite plans to abolish cheques being shelved back in July, Age UK said it had received growing numbers of complaints from the public about retailers refusing to accept them.

The charity had staunchly opposed proposals that would have seen cheques become obsolete in 2018, with the Payments Council eventually agreeing that the payment method will remain for 'as long as they are needed'.

However, despite the success of its lobbying, Age UK has admitted to having mounting concerns that cheques are still in jeopardy.

Because of its fears, Age UK has written to the UK's major banks and building societies asking them to set out
the steps they are taking to ensure that cheques continue to be widely accepted and easily available.

The charity added that reassurance was also necessary because the cheque guarantee card system – which ensured some cheques were honoured - had come to an end.

"Confidence in cheques was seriously undermined when the guarantee card was abolished," said Age UK's charity director, Michelle Mitchell.

"We need to know there are definite plans in place to restore trust in them.

"Otherwise, cheques will simply be allowed to wither away and their demise will be blamed on lack of demand."

Ms Mitchell added that the importance of cheques to many older people made it essential that they did not just 'fade away', particularly as a safe and accessible alternative payment system had not been established.

Nearly three out of four people over 65 have used a cheque in the last 12 months, compared with 60% of the rest of the general public.

Research shows that without cheques, many older people would be forced to keep sizeable quantities of cash at home to pay their bills or would have to divulge their PIN to others in order to access their own money, making them more vulnerable to theft or financial abuse.

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