No change for coins as government commits to keeping 1p and 2p

Ministers had wanted to scrap lesser-used coins and £50 note but faced huge backlash

Britain’s 1p and 2p coins and £50 notes are no longer under threat after the government committed indefinitely to not changing the types of cash in use.

Ministers had been considering scrapping the lesser-used 1p and 2p coins, together with £50 notes, but Philip Hammond confirmed on Friday that he has backed down after a backlash against the proposal when it was floated a year ago.

The Treasury had argued retaining large numbers of the smallest denomination coins was inefficient and expensive in light of steeply falling demand.

The chancellor had also questioned whether £50 notes should be scrapped because they are used widely by criminals for money laundering. A consultation to consider ditching them was unveiled in the spring statement in 2018.

A brief and noisy campaign from small businesses, charities and groups representing older and vulnerable people prompted No 10 to deny there were proposals to scrap the coins and notes but the consultation went ahead.

It has concluded that about 2.2 million people in the UK are still reliant on cash.

Natalie Ceeney, the chair of the access to cash review, said: “Cash use is falling rapidly, but digital payments don’t yet work for everyone. If we sleepwalk into a cashless society, millions of people will be left behind.”

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