/ Money

We need an independent review on scrapping cheques

Close-up of cheque and pen

From the strength of opinion here on Which? Conversation, we know that abolishing the cheque is unpopular, so it’s good that the enquiry’s been reopened. But we need to take it further and have an independent review.

Every time we mention cheques in our Conversations it shows just how popular they still are. It also shows us the strength of feeling that exists against the abolition of the cheque.

Well, it seems those folks at the Treasury Select Committee may read Which? Conversation as they have re-opened their enquiry into the abolition of the cheque.

The consultation so far…

At is stands, the decision to abolish the cheque will be made by the Payments Council. They have held lots of consultations and worked with a huge range of stakeholders, (including Which?) to:

  • Analyse where cheques are still used.
  • Assess what impact, if any, abolishing the cheque may have.
  • Come up with alternative payment methods that could be introduced.

This has been a very collaborative process and we are happy to be a part of it. However, the decision on whether or not to abolish the cheque will still ultimately be made by the Payments Council.

Their decision-making process is largely dominated by industry. This can often mean that vital interests of consumers, such as Faster Payments, are not properly pushed forward. So I have to question whether the Payments Council can ensure that adequate cheque substitutes are in place if, and when, the cheque is phased-out.

Why we want an independent review

The final decision to abolish cheques should be taken out of the hands of the Payments Council and instead it should be made following an independent review. This should consider whether the proposed alternatives to be in place by 2018 are suitable, cost-effective, accessible and safe to use for consumers.

We’re not wedded to the cheque, and understand the arguments behind scrapping it. But it would be foolhardy to scrap the cheque unless suitable replacements are in place – and an independent review would be the best way to do this. What do you think?


Has anyone else encountered delaying tactics before a new cheque book is despatched?
I wrote about my problems obtaining a new cheque book last week. It still hasn’t arrived although seven days ago I was assured it was in the post. On contacting my branch I was again diverted to the head offices, presented with a list of keys to press, none of which answered my needs. Finally desperate, I pressed the wrong one and got transferred. Once again they needed to go through all the security rigmarole. I had given my account number my name and address but this wasn’t sufficient. If the book was lost in the post I couldn’t even find this out. If I was mobile I would have visited the bank already myself. Any suggestions?

Walked the length of a busy shopping street full of “boutique” and “crafty” shops alongside the likes of starbucks, M&S, Co-Op and Co-Op Travel known locally as the “golden mile”. The majority of the independent retailers (probably about 70% of the shops in this area) have never taken Credit and Debit cards due to the cost of processing (even before the EFT terminals were virtually mandatory). I’d never given a great deal of thought to this until I noticed this morning, on my way towards town, quite a few shops with notices to the effect that “now the cheque guarantee scheme has ended we will only take CASH from now on”. On my way back up the road later I made a point of looking in all the shops on eth side of the road I was walking on. Apart from the Co-Op supermarket, and M&S (who as far as I know have not taken cheques for years and have card machines) I spotted no less than 27 shops, all but 3 independent retailers, with notices to this effect on their windows.
Can there really be any doubt, them, that the cessation of the Guarantee scheme is a blatant move by the banks to try to coerce more retailers to have their rip-off machines and to pay their rip-off charges for taking cards?

Additionally, if these retailers close down either because people want o use their cards and don’t buy when they can’t or because they get card machines and then can’t afford the charges, there will be a massive loss of revenue for the city as this this the highest business rate area in the whole city. (It’s also an area almost devoid of residential property as over the last 50 years they’ve all become shops, so if the shops are empty, nothing is likely to relace them).

Just some thoughts ………

Good news everyone, the cheque has been saved! The Payments Council announced yesterday that cheques will continue in circulation for as long as consumers need them – and the victory is largely down to you. Come and celebrate in our new Convo:


People with mobility problems and older people all use cheques, I would like cheques to be accepted by all the stores and banks again. Instead they all do theiir best to make it difficult to use cheques. Incidentally I had no problem having my cheques accepted when I was staying at my sons in Israel this year. Is it only in the U.K these problems are occurring?

aloeannie says:
17 April 2012

I run a small homebased business and sometimes trade at shows. The abolishment of the cheque guarantee card has meant I can no longer accepot cheques from a stranger.
My profit margin is modest, so it means I am faced with extra costs by providing card processing facilities which will reduce my profit margin significantly.

I feel that since cheques are still in place, then the means of guaranteeing them ought to have been reintroduced when the decision was made to keep the cheque for the time being.