The Treasury Select Committee’s inquiry into the future of cheques is to be reopened amid continuing public concern over the plan to phase them out in 2018.
The UK Payments Council announced in 2009 that it planned to close the central cheque clearing facility – and therefore prevent the further use of cheques by consumers – due to a steady and significant decline in the number of people writing them.
According to data from the organisation, while 11m cheques were used in 1990, just 4m were used in 2009.
Cheques are still needed, say consumers
When Which? Conversation’s Hannah Jolliffe wrote about the decision to abolish cheques last year, she sparked a strong reaction from readers. In our poll, 92% of people voted to keep cheques beyond 2018 as they still found them useful.
Andrew Tyrie MP, chairman of the Treasury Committee, said: ‘The Payments Council had seemingly forgotten about the millions of people who remain less at ease with the latest technology.’
Vulnerable people still depend on cheques
Charities including Age UK have expressed concerns about the impact scrapping cheques could have on older people who do not have access to alternative forms of payment such as internet banking.
Small businesses and charitable organisations have also stated objections to the abolition of cheques.
Which? Chief Executive Peter Vicary-Smith commented: ‘Cheques may be in decline but millions of us still use them every year, whether it’s to pay for tradesmen, for a school trip or as gifts to loved ones.
‘The Treasury Select Committee’s focus should be on ensuring that alternative payment methods, that all consumers are comfortable with, are in place before cheques are consigned to the scrapheap.’
The UK Payments Council has always maintained that the decision to scrap cheques will be dependent upon the availability of a suitable alternative.
The Treasury Select Committee is now seeking evidence on how many people are likely to use cheques over the next few years, as well as how vulnerable groups might be affected by their abolition.
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