MPs secure a long future for the cheque

24 August 2011

Cheque users can breathe a sigh of relief after a group of MPs have stepped in to prevent banks and building societies from having the power to abolish them.

In the past year 63% of us used a cheque, with many small businesses still reliant on them as a payment method.

In 2009 the Payments Council – an unregulated, industry body – made the decision to phase cheques out by 2018, causing a public outrage.

Following this, the Payments Council made a u-turn in May this year, saying it had changed its minds and the cheque would be sticking around for some years to come.

The Treasury Select Committee has now stepped in to make sure banks and building societies can’t get rid of the cheque by stealth.

Delaying the inevitable

But there are fears the death sentence of the cheque has merely been postponed after the use of cheques has fallen by 70% since 1990, making them a costly and outdated payment method in the eyes of the banking industry.

Read Rebecca Rutt's blog: Saving the cheque

In addition, the abolishment of cheque guarantee cards together with the large number of high street retailers that have stopped accepting cheques means they are becoming harder to use.
"The incentives for the industry to get rid of cheques has not gone away," states a new report into the future of cheques from the Treasury Select Committee. 

How often do you use cheques? Vote in our poll

In an effort to protect cheques, the Treasury Select Committee have stepped in and called on the Payments Council to look into the return of the cheque guarantee card.

It also stated that all banks and building societies should write to their customers informing them that the humble chequebook will be sticking around for the foreseeable future.

In order to prevent such an important decision being made again without consumer consultation, the MPs that make up the Treasury Select Committee have also demanded that the members of the Payments Council change to strengthen the consumer voice on the panel.

Hopefully, this will mean the cheque remains a part of day-to-day life until a viable alternative is in place.

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