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Plans to scrap cheques as a form of payment have been dropped following an outcry from consumers, charities and small businesses.

The UK Payments Council has now said cheques will continue as a form of payment for as long as customers need them. Previously they had planned to phase them out by 2018.

"This is a victory for the consumer and a common sense approach. 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," said Gary Follis, head of policy at Nationwide building society.

"Whilst the number of people using cheques continues to fall, the Payments Council has reached the right decision to keep cheques and cheque books as an essential payment method for consumers, businesses and charities."

Why keep them

Age UK said there was "a real risk" that unless an alternative to cheques was found, the elderly would have to use cash or rely on other people.

This could increase their dependency on helpers to get hold of money, pay bills or buy gifts. Older people could be more vulnerable to crime if they have to carry around more cash or keep it in their homes, the charity argued.

"We are calling on the government to recognise payment systems as an essential utility like electricity or water, so that everybody has a safe, accessible and affordable way to pay without relying on cash," said Michelle Mitchell, charity director at Age UK.

"One in five older people use other people to draw out cash for them. These people have a right to have easy and safe access to what is their money."

And it appears the Payments Council listened.

"It's in the DNA of the Payments Council to consult and listen to all those people who actually make payments and use cheques," said Richard North, the chairman of the Payments Council.

"Over the last two years we have learnt a great deal about what is important to our many stakeholders and we are really grateful to all of those groups and individuals who took the time to talk to us and help us reach this decision."

Saved, but not guaranteed

Despite the decision not to scrap cheques, it is no longer possible to guarantee them with a card.

At the end of last month cheque guarantee became invalid, which has already led some firms to say they will no longer accept cheques as a form of payment.

The Payments Council, however, stressed that many businesses already do not accept cheques regardless of whether a guarantee card is used or not. On top of this, there is no change to the validity of the cheque itself, simply that you cannot now use a card to guarantee it.

"The use of cheque guarantee cards has been in a steady decline, and many of them were written in situations where the guarantee was void," said Sandra Quinn, director of communications for the Payments Council.

In 2010, just one cheque in 14 was supported with a cheque guarantee card, while 71% of all cheque card holders have not used them in the last year.

Also, many of the times people did use their card, it was not done properly. "Our data shows less than 2% of cheques use the guarantee function validly," the Payments Council said.

What else can you use?

Those affected by the scrapping of the cheque guarantee card have more ways to pay than ever before.

As well as cash, credit and debit cards, the last few years have seen the rise of contactless payment cards. You can also transfer money electronically using online or telephone banking, provided you have account details of the person or business you're sending money to.

Last month a deal was signed between Orange and Barclaycard that meant customers can now use their phone instead of a card while Pizza Express now allows punters to pay their bill from their table using a smartphone application.

PayPal also lets people to transfer cash to each other or to businesses, either online or by phone, without knowing someone's account details.

For more details on different ways you can now make payments, take a look at the Payment's Councils' Pay Your Way site.

"My lovely car now sold onto a very happy new owner.
I still love this marque and I will still be around, preferred selling to breaking, as a great runner and performer"

Posted 12 Jul 2011, 16:46 #1 

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Well, I wish some of my customers would send me some . . .

Posted 12 Jul 2011, 19:05 #2 

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while chq's maybe mostly superseded in shops these days they have not been given any options when dealing with bills to traders in your home or via post etc and until they do chq's can't go , i don't fancy writing all my card details down to pay a bill and posting it....

Posted 12 Jul 2011, 19:54 #3 

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Can't remember when I last wrote a cheque. DD, CC and online transfers, so much easier.
People call me average, but I think that's mean!
Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day; teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime; give a man religion and he will die praying for a fish.

Posted 13 Jul 2011, 12:08 #4