Community retailers and charities representing older people have expressed their concern over the UK Payments Council's decision to scrap cheques by 2018.

The Council announced last month that after an 18-month consultation there was "no scenario" for the use of cheques after that date and they would be phased out by October 2018.

Independent retailer Pete Tanner from Poole in Dorset said that cheques were used by many of his elderly customers who did not want to carry large quantities of cash. "The flexibility of payment is important and this move will be a blow to many small businesses," he said.

Andrew Harrop, head of public policy for Age Concern, said a practical alternative was urgently needed for older people who could not manage with Chip and PIN technology.

"This will leave millions of older people worrying about how they will manage their finances without cheques," he said.

Cheque usage has been declining steadily since its peak in 1990 when more than 10 million cheques were written every day. That has now fallen to 3.8 million per day.