FUW WELCOMES CHEQUES ABOLITION U-TURN
Welsh farmers suffering from unavailable or slow broadband connections today welcomed the Payments Council's U-turn on plans to phase out cheques.
Farmers' Union of Wales president Emyr Jones, who runs a family hill farm near Bala, said: "We welcome the announcement that the Payments Council has scrapped plans to phase out cheques by 2018 and that the Treasury select committee has called for the council to be regulated as it currently lacks public accountability.
"Farmers would agree with the select committee's view that banks must now inform its customers that they will continue to honour cheques 'for the foreseeable future'.
"Even though many farmers may also use plastic debit or credit cards they still need cheques to pay for numerous transactions in connection with their businesses.
"So, at long last, it seems city bankers and politicians are beginning to realise that rural areas, like most of Wales, don't enjoy the same fast access to technology as they do so it is essential that farmers can continue to use cheques in payment for so many essential goods and services.
"With such poor quality broadband connections currently witnessed in many parts of rural Britain it's no surprise that the popularity of cheques as a means of payment still remains high with 1.1bn reportedly issued last year.
"On that basis, and the public assistance banks have been given to help bail them out their financial troubles, we would now expect the banks to be more prepared to give the public what they desire on this issue."
The Forum of Private Business (FPB), welcoming the Payments Council's new plan not to phase out cheque payments until adequate alternatives are in place, has revealed research it carried out at the end of last year showed most of the smaller businesses surveyed want market forces to determine when they should switch payment methods.
A huge 95% of the firms surveyed by the forum said they regularly pay other businesses - including suppliers, utility companies and insurers - by cheque. About 55% said cheques are their most frequent means of payment.
"In fact, about half of all the forum's respondents (48%) believed removing cheque payments within the next seven years would harm their businesses," said Mr Jones.
"Even in a world filled with electronic telecommunications, many small businesses, including start-ups, still rely on cheque payments.
"The banks must take heed of this and allow farmers to continue using cheques, at least until suitable alternatives like quick and easy internet payments are available in our numerous rural broadband black-spots."