The payments industry is central to the functioning of the economy and touches consumers and industry alike. However, it has not always been responsive to the needs of all users.
In 2009, the Payments Council, the strategy setting body for the payments industry in the UK, took a decision that cheques would be phased out by banks and building societies from 2018. This decision caused considerable anxiety for many people in the UK, particularly those who were elderly, housebound or relied on cheques to conduct their day to day business such as charities, clubs and small businesses.
Following pressure from the Treasury Select Committee (TSC) and the government, the Payments Council reversed its decision to abolish cheques in July 2011. However, following a TSC inquiry, the government accepted the case for bringing the Payments Council within the scope of financial regulation and proposed developing a number of options for potential reforms. This consultation is the result of that commitment.
The government is interested in feedback from all stakeholders including the payments industry, consumers, consumer organisations, trade bodies and all other stakeholders who have an interest in the payments industry.
The government welcomes general views on the proposed policy design, and also seeks answers to some specific questions. The views of those involved in this process will help shape the final policy design of the reform.