Should we try and get rid of copper coins?
By Joe Harker
If you check your wallet you might be hoping it's heavy and packed full of money, but weight can be deceiving. It might just be the weight of many unwanted 1p and 2p coins.
After a while you might take them all out and put them in a jar or bag where they pile up, never to be used again. There's almost nothing you can use copper coins for that a different denomination couldn't do better. Why not just get rid of them?
According to the Daily Mirror, the UK came extremely close to getting rid of copper coins. Former Chancellor George Osborne wanted to get rid of them but was blocked by ex Prime Minister David Cameron. They suggest that only around 32 per cent of the British public actually uses them with everyone else not carrying or using them. A unit of currency that nobody wants or uses is functionally worthless and getting a penny in change back from many things available may be more of an annoyance than anything else.
Writing in the Financial Times, Claer Barrett wonders whether the penny has dropped about how useless copper coins are, as the Royal Mint says they are not legal tender when they total more than 20p. If you can't spend them in any sort of quantity then what's the point of having them in circulation?
Several countries have removed copper coins from circulation including the Netherlands, Belgium, Finland and the Republic of Ireland. These nations have attempted to dispel the "curse of 99p" that many retailers seem to be stuck on and it may be time for more countries to follow suit. The complaint with this approach is it leads to retailers raising prices as they round up the cost. This may be countered by the suggestion that the pennies received in change from lower prices are not put to use, as the BBC estimates that the average Brit has 173 pennies stashed away never to be used again.
There are reasons to keep pennies, as they may help keep prices down and charities rely on them. Although seen as throwaway change by many, it may lead them to pass off the change to charities and every donation helps. Their effect on price rises may not be apparent at first, but scrapping copper coins could mean that future price rises happen in larger amounts and it would be the public that shouldered the burden of cost.