Demise of the cheque “seriously impacting” care home residents

Monday July 3rd 2023


Saltgreens care home in Eyemouth.

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Paul Kelly

A decision by Scottish Borders Council to cease the use of cheques “seriously limits” the needs of care home residents, a concerned Berwickshire councillor has warned.

Cheques are being discontinued across SBC and independent councillor James Anderson, who represents East Berwickhire, says this is proving problematic for care home residents and for care staff who rely on cheques on a regular basis.

In a question posed at a meeting of SBC, Mr Anderson asked what consultation took place to allow the decision to be made, adding: “What plans are in place to negate the negative consequential effects of this decision and why is it felt wise to move to a digital platform for all finances without adequate consultation with those this decision affects directly?”.

SBC say the use of cheques is still available at care homes but that alternative method of payments were being pursued.

Councillor Mark Rowley, the council’s executive member for Service Delivery and Transformation, said: “In terms of cheques a report was considered by the council’s senior management team in January 2022 detailing cheques issued by the council, along with the costs and the time-consuming work that the process entails.

“The recommendations in this report agreed that the council would routinely stop issuing cheques, unless there were no other options, and also to remove reference to cheques in our payment terms and to promote payment, where possible, through digital means.

“Despite a move from generating cheques in SBC and promoting other payment channels for our customers I can confirm that we have not stopped our customers ability to use cheques for payment – so we still accept cheques for payment to the council”.

Statistics reveal that in the year 2021/22 there were 2,276 cheques issued by SBC and in 2022/23 that figure had fallen to just 621.

In terms of cheques received by SBC there has also been a fall over the same periods from 3,948 to 2,751.

Councillor Rowley added: “The move away from cheques is a national one. As a council we need to have alternatives in place to ensure that removal does not negatively impact on our customers.

“The move to digital payments has resulted in a number of benefits for customers and for SBC through quicker transactions, increased customer choice of payment methods and reduced risk of lost cheques.

“If there is a specific incident where this policy change is proving problematic for customers or staff it would be very helpful to identify specific reasons and we can then explore any improvements.

“Officers are willing to look at the cheques being used in care homes and find a different solution with perhaps payments being made to staff through Paypoint rather than cashing a cheque at a branch, of which there are going to be decreasingly few, mobile facility or direct payments to suppliers who offer services to residents such as hairdressing but this facility can still be provided if no practical alternatives exists.”

Councillor Anderson responded, saying: “At Saltgreens care home in Eyemouth there is an issue the staff have raised over the residents not being able to issue cheques for themselves, obviously if staff are to take responsibility for their money there are issues around that because the staff are not in charge of their finances”.

Tweet Share on Facebook  

Subscribe to the Midlothian View newsletter

Support Midlothian View from as little as £1. It only takes a minute. Thank you.

Comments are closed.