All change? Could pennies and £50 notes be scrapped?

Cornelia Mascio
Marzo 14, 2018

"The writing looks to be on the wall for 1ps and 2ps", writes one personal finance analyst, while £50 notes may also be at risk after the government published a call for evidence on the future of cash and digital payments as part of today's Spring Statement.

Around six in 10 1p and 2p coins are believed to be used only once before they are put into savings jars - and around 8% are thrown away.

It also says that while there is "significant" overseas demand for £50 notes, there is a perception they are used for money laundering, tax evasion and other criminal actives.

It adds that from an economic perspective, having large numbers of denominations that are not in demand, saved by the public, or in long-term storage at cash processors rather than used in circulation "does not contribute to an efficient or cost-effective cash cycle".

Conservative former chancellor George Osborne was reported to have been weeks from scrapping pennies in 2015, but was stopped by then prime minister David Cameron.

Could we soon be saying goodbye to 1p and 2p coins?

It is inviting comments on the mix of coins in circulation as consumers move to non-cash payments such as contactless and digital spending. Debit card payments are forecast to overtake cash as the most frequently used payment method this year. "By 2016 it had fallen to 4bn, and by 2026 it is expected to fall to 1.3bn".

However, with research suggesting that there are 2.7 million people across the United Kingdom who are entirely reliant on cash, the government is keen to stress that it will support the payment method through ATM access.

"It continues to play an important part in the lives of many people and businesses in the United Kingdom, whether as a budgeting tool or as a cheap and convenient method of payment", the Treasury said. "If not, how should it change?"

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