To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer
(1) what discussions he has had with (a) the Payments Council and (b) British banks on the development of a practical alternative to replace cheques following the proposed closure of the cheque clearing system in 2018;
(2) what estimate he has made of the cost to small businesses of the proposed closure of the cheque clearing system in 2018;
(3) what steps his Department is planning to take to ensure that (a) vulnerable people and (b) small businesses will not be disadvantaged by the closure of the cheque clearing system in 2018;
(4) what assessment his Department has made of the effect on (a) elderly and (b) disabled people of the proposed closure of the cheque clearing system in 2018.
The closure of Cheque and Credit Clearing, the UK system that processes cheques, is a commercial decision for industry. The Payments Council, an independent body that sets the strategy for UK payment systems, will ultimately take this decision. The Government, however, recognise that certain groups still value cheques as an important method of payment.
Before any final decision is made in 2016, and ahead of the closure of the cheque clearing system, the Council has committed to ensuring that adequate alternatives are in place for all users of cheques, in particular for users who are highly dependent on this method of payment.