Royal Mint makes no 1p or 2p coins for first time in decades

No 1p coins were struck for first time since 1972, after sharp recent fall in use of cash


The Royal Mint produced no 1p or 2p coins last year.


For the first time since 1972, no 1p coins were struck for circulation in 2018-19 – and for the first time since 1984, no 2p coins were produced.


The Royal Mint produces coins, which can last decades, in response to requests from the Treasury to meet the needs of the economy.


The Treasury also said no £2 coins were produced last year, as there were already enough in circulation: about 494m.


The future of copper coins had been debated in a consultation covering the mix of cash in circulation. In 2018, at the time of the chancellor’s spring statement in March, the Treasury launched a review of cash and digital payments. It said it did not make economic sense to produce coins used infrequently.


The Treasury noted that about 60% of copper coins were used typically for just one transaction before people stashed them away.


A day after the review was announced, Downing Street said it had no plans to axe 1p and 2p coins after a brief but determined media campaign and concerns raised by charities.


In May the government emphasised that there would be no changes to the mix of coins and notes; all the denominations, from the penny to the £50 note, would stay in circulation.


Cash use has fallen sharply in recent years as the use of contactless payment has surged. The reduced demand for coins means banks may not need to order as many new ones as they did previously. But many people still rely on cash for their day-to-day spending.


About 2.2 million people in the UK are estimated to be almost entirely reliant on cash on a daily basis. Elderly and vulnerable people and those in rural communities are likely to be hardest hit by any decline in cash availability.


Regulators have been investigating how to make sure the public can continue to have access to cash when they need it, amid concerns over closures of ATMs and bank branches.


A Treasury spokesman said: “We didn’t ask the mint to issue any £2 or 1p/2p coins this past year because there are already enough of these in circulation. Our coins are of the highest quality and the amount we ask the Royal Mint to produce every year depends on demand from banks and Post Offices.”