Charity welcomes cheques U-turn

A MONTROSE-BASED charity is celebrating this week after conducting a vigorous campaign to phase out cheques.

The Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society, which supports retired and impoverished seafarers, was one of a number of organisations which has been instrumental in lobbying for the decision to be reversed.

The Payments Council, a banking industry organisation, had planned to end cheque transactions by 2018 but last week announced the system will be remain after no suitable paper-based alternative could be found.

The body was lobbied by MPs and a number of charities, and the society had argued the move would have a serious impact on donation income and those receiving its support in Montrose.

Chief executive Commodore Malcolm Williams, who conducted the campaign on the group’s behalf, this week said the U-turn would ensure the most efficient support for its dependants.

He said: “We are delighted with the news that cheques will remain in circulation and relieved that we will be able to continue to provide the best support to our beneficiaries.

“Given that the charitable objective of the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society is the relief of poverty, this is not the time to be faced with a reduction of income. Around sixty percent of all our donations and sales are by cheque.

“But the issue goes beyond a purely financial one. Cheques serve a greater purpose for our charity. We pay the majority of our beneficiaries by cheque and this allows face-to-face contact between them and volunteers who are able to identify any additional needs or provide advice. It was also getting to be a worry to many people who have always used cheques, to people who are unable to get out of their homes, to those living remotely and some disabled people.

“On many levels it was an ill-conceived move by the banks that failed to take into account how people actually live.

Commodore Williams hailed the reversal of the decision as “a great victory” for charities and small businesses.

He added: “I hope we will not see the banks getting rid of cheques by stealth by making it more difficult or expensive to get and use chequebooks.”

The society, which celebrates its 172nd anniversary this year, received 729 new applications for assistance last year and helped in 2,644 cases of need, distributing grants totalling £1.5 million. Further information about its work can be found at www.shipwreckedmariners.org.uk.