Exchequer Secretary, Robert Jenrick has seemingly secured the future of Britain’s Penny and Tuppence coins.
Speaking at the historic Trial of the Pyx ceremony on the 27th april, the Treasury Minister launched an impassioned defense of coins.
Describing coins as “freedom in the palm of your hands” he went on to focus on their crucial role in uniting a nation, as well providing simple and easy payment method for over 2.7m Britons.
But most importantly, for those of us fearing the demise of the British Penny and Tuppence, hinted at by Chancellor Philip Hammond during his Spring Statement, he was very clear.
“So the penny is safe. Safe today, safe as long as the British public cherish it and see in it, more than a unit of currency, but a metaphor for the enduring strength and continuity.”
*** UPDATE 03.05.19 ***
This week, the UK Treasury confirmed that 1p and 2p coins will continue to be used “for years to come”.
A year after Chancellor Philip Hammond declared these lower denomination coins ‘obsolete’, their safety has now been secured.
There was much discussion regarding the future of 1p and 2p coins following the Treasury’s doubts over the validity of these coins, as well as the £50 note in the 2018 Spring Statement.
Now that the result of the review has been announced, what do you think about the decision and do you think the pennies should be dropped?
Following the 2018 Spring Statement, a spokesman for Theresa May said that there are no current plans to abolish the coins, however with the increased move towards digital payments, questions still remain as to whether it makes economic sense to continue producing these less frequently used coins and notes.
The Treasury consultation document revealed that The Royal Mint is currently issuing more than 500m 1p and 2p coins each year in order to replace those falling out of circulation.
In fact, six in ten UK 1p and 2p coins are only used once before being saved in a jar or thrown away!
Countries such as Canada, Australia, Brazil and Sweden have already scrapped lower denomination coins that are not in demand and it seems that the UK is also beginning to question the future of these coins as demand continues to fall. But how would you feel about removing 1p and 2p coins from circulation?
Only 15% of consumer spending in 2015 was accounted for by cash, with more and more people now turning to contactless and other digital payments – a trend which is forecast to become the most popular payment method in 2018.
On the other hand, the Treasury also suggested that cash is not obsolete. It’s estimated that 2.7 million people in the UK rely on cash and “It continues to play an important part in the lives of many people and businesses in the UK, whether as a budgeting tool or as a cheap and convenient method of payment”.
With regards to the £50 note, the Treasury says, “There is also a perception among some that £50 notes are used for money laundering, hidden economy activity, and tax evasion”. Despite rarely being used for “routine purchases”, there is still a demand for the £50 note overseas, alongside euros and dollars.
In our 2016 blog post, we asked Change Checkers if they thought it was time to scrap the penny and 53% of you believed we shouldn’t, as it is part of the British culture.
Has your view now changed and do you think we should make a move towards digital rather than cash payments?
Have your say by voting in our poll on Facebook:
Chris Boyce said, “We have had pennies since 785 AD. I believe it’s one of the oldest coins still being used today. English heritage is being lost everyday.. don’t let us loose the penny, 1233 years of history”.
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
A survey by Gocompare recently found that as many as 21% of Britons would like to scrap copper coins, leaving the 5p as the lowest circulating denomination.
In fact, out of the 2,000 adults who participated in the survey, 68% claimed they prefer to empty their pockets of copper coins rather than carry them around or spend them.
And who can blame them?
To all intents and purposes, 1p and 2p coins are worthless because you can’t use them to buy anything.
Matt Sanders of Gocompare commented: “Our survey suggests that for many people, copper coins have had their day. In a world of higher prices, plastic cards and contactless payments, copper coins seem increasingly worthless and irrelevant.”
Other developed nations such as Australia, New Zealand and Canada have all taken steps to remove their minimum denominations, so why has Britain not yet followed suit?
Retaining the penny makes some sense because of the tendency for businesses to use a 99 pence pricing tactic. But why do we need a 2p coin? Would it be a problem if we were never to see it again?
The missing jigsaw piece
The answer is: probably not.
However, it would pose a problem for collectors.
The famous Royal Arms Shield jigsaw puzzle which has been a quirky design feature of British coins since 2008 uses the reverse design of every coin from the penny to the 50p – including the 2p.
Could this be the reason that the Royal Mint have been reluctant to scrap it?
What do you think should happen? Have your say in our poll below: