The humble cheque has been given a reprieve and will now not be scrapped in 2018 as was planned by the Payments Council.
“All work to prepare for closing cheque clearing in 2018 has stopped,” the Payments Council said.
It was announced earlier this year that cheques would be scrapped and replaced with an alternative payment system. The news was greeted by dismay from the public and politicians alike and it would seem that the Payments Council has had a change of heart saying cheques will be kept “as long as customers need them”.
The U turn has been put down to the weight of public opinion, Richard North, chairman of the Payments Council, said: “It’s in the DNA of the Payments Council to consult and listen to all those people who actually make payments and use cheques.”
“Listening to over 600 stakeholder groups, working with the banks and following our appearance before the Treasury Select Committee, we have concluded we should reassure customers that the cheque is staying.”
The Nationwide Building Society welcomed the news saying that the decision to keep cheques was a victory for the consumer and common sense.
The building society said, “Scrapping cheques would have had serious ramifications, not only for the elderly and most vulnerable in society, but also for small businesses and charities that rely on this payment method.”
Politicians also reacted favourably, Andrew Tyrie chairman of the Treasury Committee said, “At last the Payments Council is concentrating on the right thing: making the existing cheque system faster and cheaper to operate. This will benefit both banks and customers,”
The elderly were one group thought to be most affected by the scrapping of cheques, the reaction of Age UK was therefore understandably favourable, Michelle Mitchell, charity director at Age UK said, “We are delighted that the Payments Council has listened to the many people who said how difficult the loss of cheques would be for them.”