The end to spending a penny: should we ditch copper coins?

25th September 2015


Britons are no longer spending a penny or even 2p, as fewer people say they carry and spend copper coins.


Research by Gocompare shows 21% of Britons would be happy to see the 1p and 2p coins scrapped, leaving the 5p coin the lowest denomination in the UK.


The majority (68%) of people empty their purses and pockets of copper coins rather than spending them or carrying them around and only 32% said they make a deliberate effort to use small coins to pay for items.


Almost a quarter, 24%, use coppers in their day-to-day shopping and women are more likely than men to use copper coins in everyday spending: 29% of women versus 18% of men.


Younger people aged 18-to-24 have the least affection for copper coins, with a third saying they would be happy to see 1p and 2p coins go compared to 21% of all adults.


More than three times as many 18-to-24 year olds never spend pennies or 2p coins than all adults – 18% versus 5%.


A total of 17% of people think that copper coins are annoying and while one in five people would like to see 5p as the lowest denomination, one in 10 would live to see 10p as the lowest value coin.


So where do the coppers end up? Well, 61% of people drop any copper coins they receive into a savings or coin jar and the average jar contains £15.40 worth of 1p or 2p coins.


But 3% of Britons have dropped copper coins in the bin, rising to 8% for 18-to-24 year olds.


Matt Sanders of Gocompare said: ‘Our survey suggests that for many people, especially young adults, copper coins have had their day. Rather than carrying around a pocket or purse full of heavy, low value, coins many people are storing their small change in a coin jar – some are even binning their coppers.


‘The penny and 2p coins came into circulation in 1971 when a pint of milk cost 5p, a while sliced loaf 10p and 15p would buy you a pint of beer. Since then, inflation has dramatically reduced copper coins’ buying power. And, according to the Royal Mint, 1p and 2p coins are only legal tender for any amount not exceeding 20p. So you’ll contravene the Coinage Act 1971 if, in a single transaction, you try and pay for an item with more than 20 1p coins or 10 2p coins.


‘So, today, in a world of higher prices, plastic cards and contactless payments, copper coins seem increasingly worthless and irrelevant.’



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