The changing face of UK coins

UK coins have very much been in the spotlight this last week.

The Royal Mint did not produce any 20p or £2 coin for general circulation in 2017, according to new mintage figures reported by the BBC today.

The explanation for these figures can be partly attributed to the release of the new 12-sided £1 coin in March of the same year.

For six months, both the old round pound and the new coin were accepted, until the old design lost its legal tender status in October 2017. As a result – following an appeal urging people to bank or spend their old £1 coins – the nation returned a surplus of coins found in savings jars and piggy banks containing all denominations, not just the outgoing £1 coin.

It meant, for a year at least, there were plenty of 20p and £2 coins to go around and no more needed to be minted. It also means you’ll be hard-pressed to find a 2017-dated 20p or £2 coin in your loose change.

Vaultex were a close partner of The Mint to aid the roll out of the New £1 Coin, returning an estimated £500 million of old round pound coins to the firm as part of it – all of which honoured The Mint’s return quality expectations.

The figures come just a week after the UK Treasury announced that 1p and 2p coins will used for “years to come” following a through consultation.

Chancellor Phillip Hammond consulted on the current mix of coins and banknotes in circulation – the outcome of which concluded he wants people to “have a choice” over how they spend their money. A new group has also been setup to oversee the cash system, ensuring everyone can get hold of their money in cash.

The future of copper coins has come under for a number of years following a decline in their usage. Ultimately the Treasury’s has decided to preserve all of the current denominations of coin.

The decision was welcomed by the Federation for Small Businesses – who emphasised the importance and appeal of the freedom to use pennies.

The news also echoes the sentiments in the Access to Cash report – published just a couple of months ago by former Chief Financial Ombudsman Natalie Ceeney. The report makes a strong case for the need to protect cash services in general in the years ahead, suggesting banknotes and coins were a necessity for millions of people in UK.