Cheques please. Why parents need to speak up against banks

 HOW many cheques do you write a month? One? None? You’re probably not a parent or a pensioner then.

It may have skipped your notice but the banks are trying to get rid of cheques, claiming they are “in terminal decline” and no longer as popular as they used to be; ie, something we actually like, that they can cut to make more money.

The UK Payments Council, whose board reads like a who’s who of the major banks, and works with credit card firms and organisations like BACS, announced in 2009 that cheques would no longer be used by October 2018, as long as ‘viable alternatives’ had been developed. [I thought you could only have one alternative]

The Treasury Select Committee, made up of MPs, has been debating the issue by focussing on pensioners, who they claim are “less at ease with the latest technology,” according to committee chairman Andrew Tyrie. “Many charities, small business and vulnerable people – including pensioners – depend on cheques.

“Their needs must be considered. They should not be forced into shredding their cheque books.”

Actually, I think you’ll find that parents are an overlooked group that want to keep cheques too.

Bloke and I probably write ten cheques a month between us. We also do online banking as we’re lucky enough to have home computers, which I’m pretty sure many people can’t afford.

We write cheques for school dinners, school trips, school book orders, childcare fees, and never-ending subs for Cubs, for rugby, for cricket, football, drama, exams . . . I could go on.

I can’t bear this crass generalisation that the only people who use cheques are technophobes. Why can’t we have both? What happened to consumer choice? I like cheques.

It’s not just the kids’ stuff. We write cheques for local services, for window cleaners, electricians, osteopaths, our own fees for sport and the allotment. I even receive cheques for my business as a freelance.

Tyrie added that he was “shocked” that the UK Payments Council had not conducted a rigorous cost benefit analysis of its plan and called on it to “go away and do some number crunching.”

The UK Payments Council says on its website an idea for something to replace the cheque is: “a paper-initiated payment instrument.”

Er, a cheque then. Oh, and they might encourage payments via mobile phones.

What is the genuine alternative? That I give my seven-year-old a wodge of cash to take to Cubs? That people keep more cash at home to pay people?

Michelle Mitchell, charity director at Age UK, said: “Scrapping cheques without there being a suitable replacement is not acceptable.”

John Walker, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “The FSB has voiced its concern for some time that small businesses would suffer as a result of the cheque being phased out, and so it is welcome news that the Treasury Select Committee has reopened the debate.”

If you want to keep cheques, write to the Treasury Select Committee at 7 Milbank, London SW1P 3JA by May 6.Petition your MP. Harass your bank. Imagine what is it costing to even debate abolishing cheques?

If it ain’t broke, why fix it?

Oh, any by the way, cheque guarantee cards go for good at the end of June.

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