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Cheque payments need to be improved, say MPs

A Committee of MPs has called for improvements to be made to cheques, including reducing the ‘delays and uncertainty’ surrounding cheque payments.

In a new report, the Treasury Select Committee criticised the Payments Council’s decision to abolish cheques by 2018, adding that banks and building societies should not be responsible for deciding the future of cheques.

‘The Payments Council is an industry-dominated body with no effective public accountability,’ said committee chairman Andrew Tyrie.

‘It should not have unfettered power to take decisions on matters, such as the future of cheques, or other issues, that are of vital importance to millions of people. This is why we have recommended that the council be brought within the formal regulatory system.’

In 2009 the Payments Council set out proposals to end the use of cheques by 2018 after reporting a dramatic decline in the number of people using this payment method.

However, it was forced to revoke its plans earlier this year following fierce opposition from the public and charitable organisations.

In its recent report, the Treasury Committee said the proposed abolition of cheques highlighted the lack of transparency in retail banking.

As part of its recommendations for improvement, the Committee called on the banks to write to customers stating that cheques will be in use for the foreseeable future.

It also called for an overhaul of the board members of the Payments Council, including greater powers of veto for the independent members, and a rethink of the abolition of the cheque guarantee card.