So the Payments Council has shelved plans to abolish the use of cheques by 2018. Let’s face it cheques are a pain. You need to get them to a bank and there is the possibility they can bounce. For us 5 miles out of town banking is a real hassle and to be honest (and against my better judgement) often gets left. That’s because it takes an hour to do it and if you go to Winchester you have to pay to park as well. Cheques are a pain.
But here’s the rub. For a small business they are the only way other than cash (and don’t get me talking about the daylight robbery of banks charging to bank cash) that you can freely transact at the time of settlement. Card payments are great but there is a cost in equipment and for a micro business this may not be viable. I’m sure that the banks have a wonderful business case in support of card payments but they are not free – they are not even cheap.
So until they can come up with a viable alternative, let’s no be so daft as to remove the only alternative for a lot of small business. Let’s face it, if there was an alternative we’d use it and cheques would die out naturally.
I recently attended a taster session (classroom based) on the work of the Blue Lamp Trust (http://www.bluelamptrust.org.uk/). What I didn’t realise was how much risk you are putting yourself at by getting into a car for work. In 2009 there were 2,222 fatalities on our roads – 220, 000 recorded injuries of which 25,000 were life changing. 30% were work related. 833 were driving for work. 20% of all crashes are caused by tiredness and 30% not wearing a seat belt. The biggie for me is that most accidents happen within 3 miles of home.If you have people driving for you, make sure you have a procedure that works, that your staff understands and that you monitor because under health and safety law you have responsibilities. Think about mobile phone use – do you have a policy on hands free use -even this adds 0.3s to reaction time. What is your policy on tiredness, taking breaks overnight stops. It is worth checking out what these guys have to say – it sounds like yet another administrative burden but in the long run it makes sense to do this. As a final thought, do you check licenses for people who drive. Do you keep a copy, could they be fake driving licences and how as an employer do you make sure that you are not copying a fake one. You can get licenses independently checked for £5 to £6. So if this interests you check out http://www.bluelamptrust.org.uk/
My first Annual Conference – of any kind – and it’s very similar to what I imagine a political conference is. There are people with really valid points to make and people with nothing to say who speak for the need to say anything. So far I’ve said nothing and I think that by the time Conference closes tomorrow evening that’s likely to be the case still. As a newcomer you are given a badge that identifies you as a conference virgin. If I come again I’ll not get a blue band again and I may feel more confident of opening my mouth. At least that way I’ll know the process and procedures.Today I’ve heard really good speeches from John Denham MP and Ken Clarke MP. I’ve voted on motions on forming a national bank (defeated), one which was so memorable I’ve had to resort to my notes to remember what it was about (oh that’s right – it was on mortgage grants to inspire first time buyers) and curbing legislation on farming procedures (agreed). People are very passionate and some turn up to speak and you are not sure (that they are not sure) whether they are for or against the motion. More to come later.