The Treasury has ruled not to abolish low denomination coins, alongside a promise to form a new body overseeing continued cash-access throughout the land.
The safety of the 1p and 2p coins has been secured “for years to come,” according to the latest ruling from the Treasury.
Last year saw chancellor Phillip Hammond ordered a review of the continued efficacy of minting low denomination coins, alongside a comment in which he claimed the coppers were now effectively “obsolete.” The remark sparked significant fears that the UK could follow in the footsteps of other countries such as Canada and Brazil in retracting copper coins from circulation altogether – a move which trade associations led by Bacta has repeatedly claimed would be disastrous for the amusements industry.
But ahead of the annual Verdict of the Pyx ceremony (a delightfully British tradition of coin review dating back to the Middle Ages) later this week, a Treasury spokesperson confirmed that the chancellor of the exchequer would be proposing to alterations to Britain’s present line-up of hard cash denominations.
“Technology has transformed banking for millions of people, making it easier and quicker to carry out financial transactions and pay for services,” Mr Hammond remarked. “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.”
Alongside this assurance came another pledge to establish a new body specifically tasked with ensuring public access to cash in the future. Mr Hammond said the group would “bring together the Treasury, Bank of England and regulators to safeguard the future of cash and ensure its availability for years to come.”
Nationwide, non-cash payment overtook hard currency transactions for the first time in 2017, but a recent review found that over 8m people are still reliant on cash as their primary means of payment.
Nevertheless, cash access remains a growing problem throughout the country: with ATM and bank branch closures heavily impacting more isolated, rural regions – effectively cutting them off from the cash network.
Chair of the Access to Cash review Natalie Ceeney CBE has pointed to this alarming trend as evidence of the UK “sleepwalking into a cashless society.”
“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,” she said in response to the chancellor’s latest ruling. “I’m delighted to see the government taking a leadership role on this critical issue – and look forward to seeing action as a result.”