I say: Enid Blyton Foundation felled by the demise of the cheque

The Foundation may be the first high-profile casualty of banks' insistence on phasing out the humble cheque. Not very spiffing, is it?

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 23 Jul 2013

Golly – it’s enough to make Julian, Dick, Anne, George and Timmy retreat to Kirrin Island in protest. The Enid Blyton Foundation, the organisation set up by the author’s daughter which has given out more than £500,000 to children’s charities, is being forced to close, in part because of banks’ insistence on phasing out cheques. The Foundation’s founder, Imogen Smallwood, says her impending retirement has been hastened by her bank’s insistence that she use ‘new technology’. I say. Sounds like a jolly poor show to us…

In an interview with the Telegraph, Smallwood said the Foundation made a conscious decision not to use email ‘simply because we didn’t want to be inundated’ (and let’s face it, the Five’s adventures would have been a lot less swashbuckling if they’d been able to text Uncle Quentin and Auntie Fanny whenever the smugglers got a bit too close for comfort). Now, though, it’s time to hang up the keys to her treasure chest. ‘It was time. We have been sending out cheques. It could hardly go on like this.’

But it’s not just the Enid Blyton Foundation that’s in a bit of a pickle. The Payment Council’s plan to stop clearing cheques by the end of October 2018 was originally made in response to declining numbers of cheque transactions: in 2010, for example, they fell by 13% to 1.1bn. But small business groups said that if they’re phased out altogether, they’d have to shell out for expensive payment systems, while consumer groups pointed out it would have an ‘adverse effect’ on the elderly, who have, understandably, struggled to get to grips with online banking.

That said, there was a sign on Wednesday that the Payments Council is, in fact, a jolly good sport, when its chairman said during a Treasury Committee inquiry into the matter that he ‘regretted’ the way the phase-out had been announced. The inquiry was re-opened back in April, after the Committee received 1,200 letters protesting the demise of the cheque. As a result, the decision on its future has apparently now been put back to ‘2016 at the earliest’. Lashings of ginger beer all round!

- Image credit: Flickr/cat-o

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