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The bell tolls for the Cheque Guarantee Scheme

The bell tolls for the Cheque Guarantee Scheme

Category: Money

Updated: 23/06/2011
First Published: 23/06/2011

This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

There is just one week left before the Cheque Guarantee Scheme is scrapped, consumers have been warned.

From 30 June, people will no longer be able to guarantee their cheque to the tune of £50, £100 or £250 with a debit or credit card that carries the Shakespeare logo.

The decision has been made by the Payments Council, which says that the use of the Cheque Guarantee Scheme has diminished over recent years.

Figures show that in 2010, 86% of consumers did not write a guaranteed cheque.

In the last five years, the use of the facility has declined by 65%, with just 7% of all cheques written last year supported by a Cheque Guarantee Card.

It was also found that in many cases where the guarantee was utilised, it actually wouldn't have covered the amount the cheque was written for.

The average transaction value of a personal cheque is £392. However, the maximum guarantee limit on a card is £250, and 88% of cards only have a limit of £100 or under.

Despite the scheme being consigned to the dustbin of history in just a week, the Payments Council has assured people that they can still use cheques, for now at least.

"The only thing that's changing is that from 1 July you will no longer be able to guarantee a cheque using a cheque guarantee card, but it doesn't mean that you can no longer pay by cheque," said Sandra Quinn, director of communications for the Payments Council.

"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."

The Payments Council has confirmed that the long term plan is still for cheques to be completely scrapped by 2018, although it stressed that the move will not be rubber stamped until 2016, and will be dependent on other payment methods being established.

But Age UK has urged the Government to reverse the decision, after it found that cheques are still widely relied upon, especially by older people.

Almost three quarters (73%) of older people use them as a means of payment, while 63% of cheque users of all ages agree that they would find it a problem if they were no longer available.

Almost a third of people (31%) over 65 use a cheque to pay for services in the home. Nearly one in five of those over 65 often ask other people to draw cash out for them, while only 43% said that using a cash machine in the street was their preferred method of drawing cash.

More than one in 10 people of all ages give their PIN to a family member, friend or carer.

"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," Michelle Mitchell, charity director at Age UK, said.

"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."

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