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Frequently asked questions on the closure of the cheque system

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Frequently asked questions on the closure of the cheque system.

Are cheques being phased out?

No. The Payments Council announced on 12 July 2011 that cheques will continue for as long as customers need them. A previously announced target for closing the cheque clearing system by 2018 has been cancelled.

Why has the target date for closing the cheque clearing system in 2018 been cancelled?

The Payments Council has listened to what the Government and others have said about the future of the cheque. It has decided to remove any uncertainty about the future of cheques by announcing that cheques will continue for as long as they are needed. Instead, it will focus on making all payments fit for the 21st century by encouraging innovation in new and existing types of payment methods.

Has the proposal been delayed or abandoned permanently?

All work to prepare for closing the cheque clearing system in 2018 has stopped.

Is the future of the cheque now safe?

The members of the Payments Council members have committed to continue to provide customers with cheques for as long as they are needed. Can I guarantee a cheque using a plastic card? No, the cheque guarantee scheme was closed at the end of June 2011.

Does this decision affect other methods of payment?

No. The decision only affects the cheque clearing system. However, the Payments Council is researching improvements to other payment methods as well.

What does this mean for cheque clearing times?

There are no changes to clearing times. Customers and business can be sure that: they start earning interest on a cheque two working days after paying it in; they can withdraw funds against a cheque four working days after paying it in or six working days after paying it into a savings account; and the cheque will not bounce six working days after it has been deposited unless the customer or business was a knowing party to fraud.

Where can I find out more about the decision, and give my views?

More information can be found at the Payments Council website (external website, opens in new window), or by writing to:

Payments Council, 2 Thomas More Square, London, E1W 1YNE;
or by e-mail: cheques@paymentscouncil.org.uk

What is the Payments Council?

The Payments Council is an industry body, independent of Government. It was created in 2007 to set the strategy for payments in the UK, including cheques.