Time for Change – Should the UK Ditch Pennies?

Oct 9, 2012   //   by Daniel Morris   //   Commentary / Editorial  //  Comments Off on Time for Change – Should the UK Ditch Pennies?

It has been said that Britons lose close to £60m in loose change per year. Whether it’s dropped in the street, left in a vending machine or that old cliché of being down the back of the sofa, it’s a lot of money that could make a big difference to many people’s lives.

I recently took a trip down-under and the Australian monetary system has inspired me to raise the question: Do we need to carry on producing ‘coppers’?

Removing from Circulation

One option that we have as a nation to combat this, is to remove the 1p and 2p from circulation – a system that has been adopted by the Australians, who only go as low as a 5 cent piece – which would eliminate this problem.

So what happens when you reach a total of £6.01 in a store? It’s a simple matter of rounding to the nearest pound when paying by cash. If we take the example of a £6.01 charge being required in store, this value would simply become £6 if the customer were to pay by cash. However, this value would remain at £6.01 if the consumer was to pay by card.

It ends up being a bit of a give and take system. Okay, if you’re a couple of pence over the cost of the product you get a slight discount (4p) then you’d end up paying a little more.

But in the long run, this would save consumers an average of around £1.50 per year, which will add up over time and become a very substantial saving which outweighs the couple of pence you may have to pay over the price of an item.

Drawbacks of Losing those Pennies

While this sounds all well and good, there’s still a matter of the millions that are hidden around people’s homes and on the streets. What do we do about them? These millions will become worthless in stores (especially 99 pence stores!).

Well this could be easily combated through the use of the, already popular, change machines that are situated in many supermarkets. These machines sort your loose change and give you the equivalent in a larger valued coin or note (at a slight charge).

Having these machines in banks would be an elegant solution to the problem and also means that banks are taking more money in than they would be should the coppers remain in circulation as many more people would be able to dispose of these coins into a banking or saving account.

For or Against?

Would you like to keep the traditional 1s and 2s so that you can always have a little bit of change in your pocket? Or are you on the side of scrapping coppers in favour of a rounding system and never having to think about the lost change hidden under the rug or under the fridge?

Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.

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