'Future of Cheques' report calls for changesBanks must not deter customers from using cheques

24 August 2011

Cheques to stay

The Payments Council must ensure banks don't phase out cheques 'by stealth'

Following the Payment Council's decision to retain cheques, a new Treasury Select Committee report calls for changes in the way the market is regulated.

Payments Council must protect cheques

The Treasury Select Committee's new report on 'The Future of Cheques', released today, calls on the banks not to remove cheques 'by stealth', and urges the Payments Council to be formally regulated and to better represent consumers.

Richard Lloyd, Which? executive director commented: 'The decision to retain cheques was a victory for consumers, but the Payments Council must now guarantee that banks will not deter customers from using them.

'It’s unacceptable that the Payments Council, as an unregulated, industry-dominated body has the power to make unilateral decisions about payment methods that affect millions of people. The structure of the Payments Council now needs to be reviewed, and the voice of consumers strengthened on its board.'

Cheques still popular

The report follows the Payments Council's announcement that it won't phase out cheques, following significant pressure from Which? and other consumer groups. The Payments Council originally announced its decision to abolish cheques in 2009 following a significant fall in their use, with just four million written in 2009, compared with the 11 million that were used in 1990.

However, a poll of 1,338 people conducted in January revealed that 92% want to keep cheques. The vote was conducted on the Which? Conversation, a community site where Which? experts cover burning consumer issues of the day and site visitors can post their views.

And an online omnibus survey of 1,311 members of the general public conducted in December 2010 revealed that:

  • 50% of people had written a cheque in the last month
  • 76% had written one in the last year
  • Two in five people (41%) used a cheque to pay a tradesman or supplier
  • One in five (23%) had sent one to a friend or relative as a present
  • One in eight (14%) paid by cheque for school costs such as meals and outings
pound coins

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