In March 2015, the UK treasury confirmed that 1p and 2p coins will continue to be used “for years to come”. However, it has recently been suggested that due to a cash usage slump, The Royal Mint is set to go ten years without producing anymore 2p coins!
But it’s not just our coppers at stake.. The same applies for £2 coins, as it has been revealed that in March 2020, The Royal Mint was sitting on 26 times as many £2 coins as it needed to.
According to the National Audit Office’s report into Britain’s cash usage, the number of coins produced each year by The Royal Mint fell by nearly two-thirds between 2011 and this year.
Less than a quarter of all payments were made by cash last year, according to figures released in June by the banking trade body UK Finance.
It’s fair to assume that even less cash has been used since the start of 2020 due to the coronavirus leading to fears of cash usage and a move to more contactless payments.
However, The Mint told Britain’s spending watchdog that there had been ‘sharp increases in demand’ for change ‘as many businesses and consumers hoarded coins in the early months of the pandemic’.
As a result, the Treasury ordered The Royal Mint to strike 60 million additional 1p coins over the summer to meet this new demand. So make sure you keep your eyes peeled for these new 1p coins, especially if you’re collecting dateruns!
The Royal Mint are required to forecast the demand for small change to ensure it keeps enough coins in stock without striking too few or too many, but with significant fluctuations in consumer behaviour in recent years, this has no doubt been a challenge.
In 2017, after the introduction of the new 12-sided £1, The Royal Mint saw a swell in its coin stocks as people rushed to return their round pounds, ending up returning loose change of other denominations at the same time.
According to the NAO, at the end of March, The Royal Mint aimed to hold 700,000 £2 coins, but actually held 18.7million. And rather than holding its target of 15.9million 2p coins, it held 127.1million.
As a result, in March of this year, The NAO said The Royal Mint had estimated ‘it did not envisage producing any new 2p or £2 coins for at least 10 years’.
We haven’t seen a £2 enter circulation since 2016, so, could this mean that those 2016 dated £2s and 2017 dated 2p coins are the last of their kind? We certainly hope not.
But what about our coppers? Do you think we still need 1p and 2p coins in circulation? Have your say by voting in our poll on Facebook.
And what could the future for Britain’s definitive coinage be if the 1p and 2p coins were removed? Currently the definitive coins from 1p to 50p come together to create The Royal Shield, but with two key pieces missing, could this lead to a complete re-design?
We’d love to hear what you think about the use of cash vs card and the demand for our smaller denominations, so leave us a comment below to share your thoughts.
If you’re interested in coin collecting, our Change Checker web app is completely free to use and allows users to:
– Find and identify the coins in their pocket
– Collect and track the coins they have
– Swap their spare coins with other Change Checkers
Sign up today at: www.changechecker.org/app