MPs will reopen cheque inquiry

Treasury Select Committee chair Andrew Tyrie says it will look at the issue again because of a public outcry

HM Treasury
HM Treasury

The Treasury Select Committee has reopened its inquiry into the proposed abolition of cheques by 2018 because of continued levels of public concern.

The Payments Council announced in 2009 that it planned to phase out cheques by October 2018. However, it will not make a final decision until 2016.

Andrew Tyrie, Conservative MP for Chichester and chair of the Treasury committee, said that since the last inquiry in the early part of 2010, it had been inundated by letters from the public saying they relied on cheques.

"Many charities, small businesses and vulnerable people – including pensioners – depend on cheques," he said. "Their needs must be considered. They should not be forced into shredding their cheque books."

Tyrie said he was shocked that the Payments Council had not conducted a rigorous cost-benefit analysis before giving evidence at the earlier hearing, and that he hoped to examine the one they had now been instructed to do.

Richard North, chair of the Payments Council, said he welcomed the reopening of the inquiry.

"We remain committed to being fully transparent and to keep on consulting with those who still rely on cheques, particularly older people, small businesses, charities, and clubs and societies," he said.

"This inquiry enables us to reassure consumers and businesses that cheques will not disappear unless we deliver on our commitment to make sure that acceptable alternatives are in place and available."

The council had been working on a cost-benefit analysis, a Payments Council spokeswoman said.

Louise Richards, director of policy and campaigns at the Institute of Fundraising, said the move showed the government was taking the issue seriously.

"We've been worried the abolition would happen by the back door," she said. "This will highlight the issue again and will bring it into the public arena. It will help to make sure that nothing happens that would be detrimental for the charity sector."

A spokesman for the Treasury Committee said the deadline for written submissions was 6 May and that oral sessions should start by mid-June. He said the length of the inquiry would depend on how much written evidence was submitted.

To find out how to submit evidence, visit the Treasury Select Committee website.

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