Chequebooks championed by MP

Posted on November 5th, 2010 | Categories - News

An MP is battling to save the cheque.

Cheques may be phased out before the end of the decade.

A Yorkshire MP is attempting to stop cheques from being phased out by the UK Payments Council in 2018.

Liberal Democrat MP for Bradford East, David Ward, aired his concerns that the withdrawal of cheques will make life harder for disadvantaged people in an address to the Commons this week.

He said: “The withdrawal of cheques is simply a cost saving exercise for the banks, which are prepared to ride roughshod over the needs of vulnerable consumers and charities”.

“My bill will ensure that cheques continue to be available for as long as people want to use them. This is not something that is rapidly withering on the vine. It is the preferred option for hundreds of thousands of people and small businesses. Who is going to speak up for vulnerable groups?”

The Payments Council has argued that there should be “no scenario” for using cheques by 2018 with the rise in debit card usage and alternative payment methods. However, Mr Ward contended that the council, which he described as a trade association of banks and electronic payment groups, should not be responsible for making such decisions, citing the Financial Services Authority as the correct organisation to discuss any potential changes.

Paul Smee, chief executive of the Payments Council, said: “We do not believe that legislation to force banks to keep the cheque is required. The Payments Council has set a target date to close the cheque clearing in eight years’ time, but we will only be pressing ahead with this date in 2016 if we have ensured that alternatives have been identified, are accessible to users, and are actually being used”.