Cultural Playing Field

The future of cheques by Robin Simpson
March 10, 2011, 9:28 am
Filed under: meetings | Tags: , ,

On Wednesday afternoon Daniel, Lindsey and I were at the Payments Council in London for the Voluntary Arts Link workshop on ‘The Future of Cheques’. In December 2009 the Payments Council (a membership organisation representing all the main banks and building societies) made a decision to set a target date of 31 October 2018 for closing central cheque clearing. Cheque use has been in decline since 1990 and it the trend is expected to continue and accelerate. The Payments Council was concerned that, unless the phasing out of cheques was managed, there was a possibility that cheques could be withdrawn by individual banks before adequate alternatives had been developed for all groups of consumers, or that banks would start to increase charges for using cheques. Our workshop gathered together representatives of 15 voluntary arts umbrella bodies (including the British Puppet and Model Theatre Guild, the Braid Society, the Guild of Glass Engravers, the British Clavichord Society and Open Morris) to look at the implications for voluntary arts groups. This session was one of the most popular events we have run for voluntary arts umbrella bodies: the future of cheques is clearly a hot topic for our sector. The Payments Council stressed that a final decision on the future of cheques will not be taken until 2016 (contrary to press reports that cheques are definitely being phased out) and that there will have to be viable alternatives to cheques before any final decision is taken to close central cheque clearing. I was very impressed by the thoroughness and openness of the Payment Council’s consultation process and it was great to have the opportunity to tell them about the particular needs of voluntary arts groups across such a wide range of artforms. If you are concerned about how your group would cope without cheques I would recommend the report by Optimisa Research for the Payments Council: ‘Charities, clubs and societies use of cheques and requirements for alternatives’. You can read the Executive Summary at Many thanks to Voluntary Arts Treasurer, Geraint Lewis, for encouraging us to develop this workshop with the Payments Council and thanks to everyone who attended.

Robin Simpson.


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