On 12 July 2011 the Payments Council, the organisation that sets strategy for UK payments, announced that cheques will continue for as long as customers need them. This means the target for the possible closure of the cheque clearing in 2018 has been cancelled.
The Payments Council said its Board will continue to focus on security, efficiency and encouraging innovation in all types of payments to ensure customers have options best suited to the 21st century.
Richard North, the Chairman of the Payments Council said:
"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."
In a recent survey of FMB members, 59.2% of respondents reported making payments by cheque several times a week, and 52.9% said they accept payments by cheque with the same frequency.
Only 8.6% of respondents expected their business to be using cheques less to the point they could cope without them in five years from now, and just 5.8% expected their business to have stopped using cheques entirely in five years.
There is also significant concern among small contractors that the abolition of cheques would result in more cash payments for building services, which would in turn benefit rogue traders and encourage the informal economy to grow.
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