LONDON (1/7/10)--Central check clearing in the United Kingdom (UK) may become a thing of the past as of Oct. 31, 2018. The UK's Payments Council Board set the date as a target for ending check clearing, saying that check use is in a "long-term, terminal decline." Check use has declined since 1990, but has dropped 40% during the past five years, said the council, which sets strategy for UK payments. During the next nine years, the council will promote and explain existing alternatives and ensure that any required innovations and new options are in place. It noted there are "still plenty of situations where checks are used extensively," including payments between individuals and to sole traders, small businesses, clubs, charities and schools. The goal is to ensure there is no scenario by 2018 where anyone or any business needs to use a check, the council said. Its next steps are to identify targets it can measure progress against. It plans a review of its progress in 2016. At that time the council will decide whether sufficient change has occurred against agreed published criteria that would eliminate checking altogether in 2018.