1p and 2p coins saved for the nation: Chancellor confirms no coins or notes will be withdrawn from circulation

3 May 2019

Chancellor Philip Hammond is calling to an end speculation about the demise of copper coins. 

The Chancellor will confirm in a speech that no changes will be made to the current cash supply, from 1p and 2p coins all the way up to £50 notes.

This is despite analysis from the Bank of England last year that suggested removing 1p and 2p coins would have little-to-no impact on inflation.

Mr Hammond comments: “Technology has transformed banking for millions of people, making it easier and quicker to carry out financial transactions and pay for services.

“But it’s also clear that many people still rely on cash and I want the public to have choice over how they spend their money.

“I’m also setting up a group which brings together the Treasury, Bank of England and the regulators to safeguard the future of cash and ensure its availability for years to come.”

Research from the Treasury suggests that while the use of cash has declined in recent years, it still remains a dominant form of payment for many people across the country, despite the rise of digital payment methods.

Natalie Ceeney CBE, chair of the Access to Cash review, says: “Cash use is falling rapidly, but digital payments don’t yet work for everyone.

“We need to safeguard the use of cash for those who need it, and at the same time work hard to ensure that everyone can participate in the digital economy.

“If we sleepwalk into a cashless society, millions of people will be left behind. I’m delighted to see the Government taking a leadership role on this critical issue - and look forward to seeing action as a result.”

The Treasury estimates 2.2 million people in the UK are still reliant on cash, particularly older and more vulnerable people, and those in rural communities.

The Chancellor will today announce a new group to protect access to cash, chaired by the Treasury, after the ‘Trial of the Pyx,’ an arcane procedure dating back to 1282 whereby a judge and jury assess the metallurgical quality of newly minted coins.


In the normal course of the cash cycle, many denominations fall out of circulation, for example, by being placed into savings jars. Surveys suggest that six in 10 1p and 2p coins are used in a transaction once before they leave the cash cycle. They are either saved, or in 8% of cases are thrown away.

To meet demand created by such losses from circulation, in previous years the government and the Royal Mint have needed to produce and issue over 500 million 1p and 2p coins each year to replace those falling out of circulation.

However, due to an increase in the rate of decline in the use of cash for lower value transactions, there is a reduction in demand for coin from cash processors; they are now holding increasingly large stocks of coin that have returned to them but for which there is declining future demand.

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