No its not the title of a new Hollywood blockbuster movie but the date set by the UK Payment Council that is likely to see the end of the cheque as a means of payment. Although probably not a big issue for most of us who now use electronic banking, credit and debit cards to process day to day payments for both corporate and personal use, the fact is that cheques are still being used by individuals and corporates alike, and indeed by Government itself.
The decision has been taken by the UK Payments Council which is the organisation that sets strategy for UK payments to ensure that the UK payments system meets the needs of users, payment service providers and the wider economy. Statistics show that the cheque as a means for payment has been in decline since 1990 and its use has fallen by 40% in the last five years. The council were faced with the option of allowing the cheque to follow a natural decline or manage the decline, with the council opting for the latter, and setting 31 October 2018 as the target date for the closure of the cheque clearing system. Over the next nine years, the Payments Council will seek to promote and explain existing alternatives and assess what kind of innovation is required to meet the demands of the community. Although the target date of October 2018 has been set, the Council will be undertaking a full review in 2016 to assess whether there has been sufficient change since 2010 to allow for the cheque clearing system to be closed in 2018.
Before diving into the pros and cons that this decision will inevitably mean for all of us, I will recap on the history behind this well known method of payment, now that its days are numbered.
According to the British Banking History Society the first English cheque (or rather a drawn note) was issued on 16 February 1659 and was drawn by Messrs Clayton and Morris, scriverners, bankers and estate agents in Cornhill. It is also important to note that other forms of payments were also used throughout the 15th century, and possibly earlier, such as Bills of Exchange referred to as A Treatise of Tripartite Exchange. In fact, reference is made to some Italian bankers based in England making loans to King Edward I and King Edward II respectively. Interestingly enough, I was also able to establish that the first (kind of) bank dates back to Egibi and Son in Babylon, founded in the reign of Sennacherib about 700BC, and with that I thought that I would end my research.
As new generations set the pace in modern ways of dealing with everyday life, there are many of an older generation that are dependant on the use of cheques, and line up every month to receive their pension cheque, and then use this same method to pay for their monthly bills. Furthermore, although most families own a computer, either in the form of a laptop or desktop, not everyone has an internet account to be able to access electronic banking.
Important drivers behind the council’s decision to terminate the cheque are linked with cost and fraud reduction. It is estimated that the cost of processing a cheque through the UK clearing banking system is £1 per cheque and although not many businesses accept payment by cheque unless you have a cheque guarantee card (or at a local level, if they know you fairly well), there are still many cases of fraudulent cheques being used to pay for goods and services. Dishonoured cheques are also another issue that springs to mind, and I am sure that many readers will have experienced this themselves, together with the cost charged by the bank for processing the dishonoured cheque.
One could argue that globalisation and free market movement have also pushed towards making the cheque obsolete, in particular as the cheque clearing system is not known to be very efficient when it comes to clearing foreign cheques.
Other factors that have caused the cheque to lose ground against other modern forms of payment such as electronic payments, include security and efficiency, areas where the cheque is clearly unable to compete.
The news is also likely to be welcomed by environmental groups,
who will see this as a step to reducing the number of paper driven day to day necessities that are produced in this day and age.
So how will this affect you?
At a personal level, most of us probably use credit and debit cards to purchase daily goods and services for domestic use, however, not all businesses accept payment by cards and occasionally one has to draw their cheque book to make certain payments in the absence of any available cash on hand. Although local well known businesses such as utility companies allow you to pay by direct debit facility, there are others that do not accept electronic payment, and only recently I received an invoice which clearly stated that payment could only be made by cheque or cash.
There appears to be some sort of allegiance attached to cheques with many of us preferring to pay for other expenses such as membership to a local club by cheque, rather than by transfer in the hope that it will be much easier for the club treasurer to allocate the payment to your account in comparison to the making of an electronic payment.
Although most employees now receive their salaries by bank transfer there are some who still receive their payment by cheque or in cash, (in particular casual labour and those who are paid weekly). Unless some other modern form of payment is introduced in the next few years (such as payment by your mobile phone) it would appear that credit/ debit card and electronic payments will be gaining ground with more and more businesses trying to steer away from cheque payments in the run up to 2018.
What is clear is that the popular tradition of enclosing cheques in Christmas or Birthday cards has its days numbered and as from 2018 may be replaced by e-vouchers.
And how will this affect your business?
The answer will very much depend on the nature of your business and how your clients effect payments for the goods or services provided. In the case of retail establishments, clients will continue to pay by credit/debit cards or cash however businesses will need to consider what this change might represent. For instance, whilst credit card facilities invite customers to purchase in larger quantities, and more regularly on the basis that they are being provided with further credit, often with flexible payment terms, there are charges associated with receiving credit card payments which will need to be factored in by your business. On the other hand cash is often considered as a less costly method of payment, however there is always the risk of loss or theft of takings, and occasionally fraudulent notes do make news headlines. There are also other costs involved when depositing large quantities of cash in business accounts, with banks trying to steer away from the administration attached to this.
Other businesses such as service providers will probably turn to electronic payments as means of replacing cheque payments and it will be important for businesses to ensure that their clients adequately provide appropriate details to ensure that payments are promptly identified. It would appear that electronic banking will continue gaining strength with most banks already offering a wide range of electronic banking services.
So what should my business do?
Change is often considered negatively by some, however one needs to be positive about change as there are often opportunities that come with it. So whatever the nature of your business, this might well be a good opportunity to reconsider your debt collection options and use this as an opportunity of improving your business performance by mitigating against bad and late payers. Most importantly, its success will depend on how the process of change is managed and how businesses communicate and market these changes to their clients and other stakeholders.
In Gibraltar there are many employees and employers who are unsure or even unaware of the existence of any regulations regarding First Aid at work (FAW).
However, there are numerous companies who are actively training and retraining staff in order to ensure they are up to date and adhering to the local regulations. So what are the local First Aid at Work regulations and how do they affect your company?
The regulations for FAW here in Gibraltar broadly follow the HSE (Health & Safety Executive) regulations in the UK. Standards and levels of training are similar to those in the UK and these fall in line with the European Resuscitation Council guidelines (ERC), which is the governing body that stipulates what techniques and procedures should be trained in First Aid throughout Europe. Note; the HSE First Aid Regulations recently changed in Oct 2009 and all the information in this article corresponds to those changes.
The regulations apply to all employers regardless of the size of organisation. If they have not already done so an employer should undertake a First Aid Risk Assessment and from the results of that assessment consider what training and cover they need. For example, the risk assessment will highlight the need to provide adequate first aid cover to their employees and importantly to any visitors to their premises. This cover needs to be provided by a nominated person within their company or organisation who has been trained to deliver First Aid. They also need to ensure that the correct equipment (first aid kits and the like) are available, dictating what level of training be achieved and ensure each employer has an adequate number of qualified personnel to cover throughout their working hours.
Other factors which also need to be considered are the distribution of employees across different sites. Having all the first aiders in the head office will not help those that are working offsite, in different departments, on various floors or even in other buildings!
Training for these courses is provided locally by Heart Starterz who only use qualified First Aid instructors. Each of the courses provide hands on training and participants learn the key essentials in delivering First Aid in a practical and confident manner without any drama.
There are two first aid courses that the HSE recommends in particular: Emergency First Aid Course (EFAW) which is conducted over a day’s training and the First Aid at Work course (FAW) which can now be delivered over a 3 day period. Both of these courses are offered by Heart Starterz.And these skills need to be kept up to date through refresher courses usually once every three years.
The Refresher courses are not mandatory, but are highly recommended by the HSE and Heart Starterz offer these annual sessions for FREE.
As an introductory offer, Heart Starterz is offering Chamber Members a discount for a number of their courses.
For further information on the First Aid at Work Regulations, please contact us on Telephone: 54021289 or via our website
As part of the our efforts to bring members greater benefits, the Chamber is pleased to announce the introduction of a new schedule of structured training during 2010. The Chamber has linked up with local trainer Sarah Gomersall and Video Arts, one of the world’s premier providers of training resources.
The ability to use Video Arts material has been made possible after lengthy discussions between the Chamber and the company. Previously rigid user-licence restrictions prevented organisations such as the Chamber from charging third party viewers. These restrictions have been adapted along with the advent of digitised encryption to make Video Arts’ extensive training library available for the first time to third party users. Indeed the Gibraltar Chamber is one of the first organisations outside the UK to be using this new way of using Video Arts’ material.
There will be a variety of training themes but all the workshops are designed to make positive and lasting impact on members’ businesses.
The workshops will be delivered at the Chamber by Sarah Gomersall from Proven Solutions who will use her own knowledge and training experience along with proven Video Arts materials to deliver unique compelling and useful training.
The sessions are short, usually no more than half a day, and are designed to enable business owners and their staff to be flexible in terms of time and financial commitment and also to benefit from some of the latest learning methods available.
The programme is scheduled to begin in the first quarter of 2010 and the first few sessions will focus on Customer Service, an area which many members have highlighted a need for training support.
In particular sessions will include the following themes:
• Customer Care made perfect
• Improving the quality of your Customer Service
• Representing your company and effective after-sales service
• Complaints and the Customer
This first workshop will follow the theme of Customer Care Made Perfect, it will help you to discover how to satisfy demanding customers. The cost of the workshops is £55 per person for those members who have fully paid up their 2009 subscriptions.
The Chamber has access to the entire training library of Video Arts so if members wish to have a particular then they can look at the library www.videoarts.com and then contact the Chamber to see how this could be done.
Places for courses will be allocated in a first come, first served basis.
Contact the Chamber on 200 78376 to reserve your place or email the Chamber on firstname.lastname@example.org.
S&T Training Solutions have been successfully running accredited statutory training courses for the last year and a half, covering a range of health and safety training, delivered both as ‘open’ and corporate in-house, to the Gibraltar market.
STTS was set up locally as a ‘one-stop shop’ to provide a comprehensive range of certified statutory, technical and other training courses; bringing into Gibraltar professional qualified UK trainers, and taking care of the organisation behind setting up courses and the statutory training required by law and EU regulations.
S&T Training Solutions Director, Josephine Lorns, says, “Employers have a statutory responsibility to look after the health and safety of their employees and proper training by qualified professionals is needed to do this effectively. Many companies in Gibraltar already have a Health & Safety Policy, other companies are looking to implement such a policy and this reflects their commitment to the welfare of their employees.”
She adds, “With Health & Safety courses being delivered in Gibraltar, it reduces the time for key personnel to be away from their desk which is a big consideration for many small local businesses. Also, because STTS is a ‘one-stop shop’, it saves clients the onerous task of locating the right course in the first place, as well as the time and costs in organising it.”
STTS offers a range of Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) and Royal Society for the Promotion of Health (RSPH) accredited courses, focusing on Health & Safety and Environmental issues. CIEH Courses – Health & Safety in the Workplace – start with the Level 2 Award which is aimed at anyone in a work environment, Level 3 for Supervisors, Managers, rising to the top level to Manage H&S and qualify to named “Competent” person, as required by law. Specific areas of training in Health & Safety are also offered, such as Safe Working at Heights and Risk Assessment Training, to name but two.
Health & Safety covers an extensive area and STTS have additional courses in the pipeline; and also in the area of technical training, such as electrical. The full range of training courses offered by STTS can be seen on their website, www.sttraininggibraltar.com
S&T Training Solutions plan a special focus this year on offering CIEH – Food Safety in Catering Courses. These courses are designed for all Food Operatives working in a Catering environment, through to managers and owners of Bars, Cafes, Restaurants, and Hotels. STTS offer ‘Open’ courses and ‘Corporate in-house’ courses which can be tailored to suit the client’s business requirements. Statutory refresher courses where applicable, are also available to revalidate the accreditation. The facility of an Interpreter can be arranged, and exam papers be provided on some Courses for non-English speaking delegates. Josephine says “As laws and EU legislation are ever evolving, other courses will be introduced to cover that new legislation.”