On September 15, the Payments Council, which represents the banks and building societies, is meeting to discuss its next steps since its u turn over the decision to scrap cheques. (http://www.ageuk.org.uk/get-involved/campaign/results/campaign-to-stop-cheques-being-withdrawn/ )
On the agenda will be how to make the clearing system – central to the operation of cheques – more efficient and less expensive.
If the Council’s members do not come up with solutions to bolster confidence in cheques, which have been undermined by costs for businesses and July’s abolition of the guarantee card, Age UK believes the damage will become irreversible. (http://www.ageuk.org.uk/latest-news/archive/mps-call-over-cheque-guarantee-cards/ )
Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director of Age UK said, “This is an opportunity for the banks to live up to their promise to keep cheques for as long as they are needed and to make them truly viable for older people and others who rely on them. If they squander this opportunity, confidence in cheques will continue to evaporate.
“The Payments Council must invest in the cheque clearing system to make it sustainable. Small businesses must also be able to use cheques with confidence, whether that means bringing back the cheque guarantee card or some other way.”
In addition, Age UK is calling for continued work on the development of alternative and innovative payment systems which are accessible to all consumers.
Last month Age UK, which has played a major role in the campaign to protect cheques, wrote to the UK’s biggest banks and building societies calling on them to restore confidence in the payment system.
Michelle Mitchell said, “We are running out of time to save cheques. The banks need to accept that they have a responsibility to provide essential financial services to all consumers irrespective of age. Until they come up with some other form of payment which fits the bill, cheques will remain essential.”
The Payments Council is not expected to report back before the end of the year at the earliest.
Notes to editors
On July 14 the Payments Council announced it would end its target date of 2018 to end the cheque clearing system. At the same time, the cheque replacement programme which was coordinating the development of new payment systems, including mobile payments and paper-based methods, was also stopped.
“The Way We Pay” is Age UK’s report on payment systems and financial inclusion.
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