End of cheques leaves disabled people worried
As New Zealand’s major banks phase out the use of cheques, IHC and other disability service providers are asking banks how they will maintain access to banking services by disabled people.
Many disabled people rely on cheques, but several banks have already stopped issuing chequebooks and soon will no longer accept cheques. Also, thanks to COVID-19, fewer businesses are accepting cash.
IHC General Manager of Corporate Services Andrew Procter says IHC and the sector have been working with banks on the changes for some time. “Progress is painfully slow and there is no obvious solution that replaces cheques. We have been talking to the banks' vulnerable customers teams who are all keen to find solutions.”
He says there are three key issues:
- Making sure people with intellectual disabilities can access the banking system and their own money. That means having the identification and paperwork to open and use an account and that the use of the account is not necessarily tied to an individual remembering a pin number or being able to sign their name.
- Being able to provide the right support to balance risk with an individual’s right to access their own money, manage it and spend it. IHC is talking to the New Zealand Bankers’ Association about whether an individual can be registered as vulnerable within the banking system. We are also looking into how banks will let us provide support and how we will all manage the liability.
- What products are available to make banking easier for people we support and what advice banks will provide on managing risk.
In early April Andrew Procter, IHC Director of Advocacy Trish Grant and Legal Counsel Lynne Sijbrant attended a banking forum jointly hosted by the New Zealand Disability Support Network, People First NZ, IHC and the Bankers’ Association to develop a collective response to the challenges experienced by people with learning disabilities in operating personal bank accounts.
“As we all know there’s no easy or one-size-fits-all solution,” Andrew says. “In fact, we have been working towards these changes for some time now – and it’s involving a lot of discussions.
“Banks are having difficulty understanding when they should support people to access their own accounts. Ministry of Health guidance does not give clear instructions or legal authority to families or providers for how to help people manage their money.
“It is complex as most of the options for banking rely on what’s known as a one-signature approach – meaning one person authorises a payment either with a debit or credit card or through online banking. We’re also receiving conflicting advice from local bank branches and banks’ national offices.”
Many people have an advocate or family member supporting them with their banking – while others do not and therefore traditionally IDEA Services has taken a more active role.
Kiwibank, New Zealand Post, ACC, Co-operative Bank and Inland Revenue have stopped their cheque services. ANZ will stop by 31 May 2021. Westpac, BNZ and Rabobank will stop accepting cheques from the end of June 2021. ASB will stop cheques on 27 August. TSB and SBS still issue and accept cheques. Foodstuffs’ New World, Pak’n Save and Four Square outlets stopped taking cheques on May 1 and Countdown will from May 23.
Caption: Photograph Andre Taissin – Unsplash
This story was published in Strong Voices. The magazine is posted free to all IHC members.
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