Last week Canada became the latest country to bid farewell to its penny or 1 cent coin. Australia, Brazil and Sweden have already ditched theirs – the question is will the UK be next?
With over 11 billion in circulation according to latest Royal Mint figures, the humble penny accounts for nearly 40% of all Britain’s circulating coins. It is in fact our most common coin but when it costs more than a penny to make a penny, surely its days must be numbered?
Opinion is divided
Those in favour of getting rid of it say you can’t buy anything for a penny these days. True – the penny chews of my youth have now gone from our sweet shops. You can’t even ‘spend a penny’ anymore (that’ll cost you as much as 30p for the privilege). Put simply, 1p coins have no other function but to weigh down our purses and pockets.
But, in these tough times, every penny counts. Those against the move say there are plenty of people that still need the 1p and other small denomination coins. How many of us pop our loose change in charity collecting boxes when we’re out and about? They may be small amounts but they all add up.
A future collector’s item?
So it is probably fair to say that keeping hold of your old pennies is unlikely to make you rich. However, when they do finally disappear from our change (as is almost certain at some point), they are certain to remain an important part of Britain’s numismatic heritage for centuries to come.
Penny for them
Ultimately the “Master of the Mint” Chancellor George Osborne will make the final decision but what are your thoughts – should the penny stay or go?