1p and 2p Coins 'Came Within Weeks Of Being Completely Scrapped'

You know that massive jar of pennies that you keep meaning to get changed? Well, if ex-chancellor George Osborne had got his way, it could have ended up completely worthless. Doesn't even bear thinking about, does it?

It's reported that after winning the general election two years ago, government officials had proposed to completely scrap 1p and 2p coins, and it came within weeks of becoming a reality.

According to The Guardian, David Cameron blocked the move as he was worried about the symbolism of the Tories getting rid of the penny.

Osborne believed that it would be a 'modernising change', but Cameron felt that the idea, if implemented, would have been far too risky for his party.

Credit: PA

The treasury had looked at the effect similar measures had in Australia, when one and two cent coins were stopped and it found that although people on the whole were happy with the removal, the government faced a backlash from charities who relied heavily on loose change for donations.

The Guardian also reported that this was not the only controversial idea drawn up by the then-government concerning cash.

The deputy head of the Downing Street policy unit, Daniel Korski, had previously detailed his plans for a cashless society.

"The proposal we developed to move towards a totally cashless society," Korski said, arguing officials had agreed that was the direction of travel anyway.

"I said: 'Let us force that pace'. If government shows a willingness, says why it matters, then it could make Britain the centre for innovation for money in the future.

"It was in the package for discussion until it got taken out by George Osborne. They said: 'Look, it is an interesting idea but it will scare people'."

But how much would we actually miss coppers if they left circulation?

According to figures from Gocompare.com, only 32 percent of Brits actually use copper coins, while everyone else neither carries nor spends them.

"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," Matt Sanders, Gocompare.com's money spokesperson, told The Mirror.


Credit: John O'Shea/creative commons

The younger generation are even less keen, with one in 12 admitting that they just throw them in the bin.

The vast majority of us opt to save them in a jar, with the average penny jar in the UK being worth around £15. This is probably the best bet, given that you can't even spend coppers on their own if you are trying to pay over 20p.

"The penny and 2p coin came into circulation in 1971 when a pint of milk cost 5p, a white sliced loaf 10p and 15p would buy you a pint of beer," said Sanders.

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

Sources: The Guardian, The Mirror

Words: Paddy Maddison

Featured Image Credit: PA

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