LONDON Jan 1: The government is launching a campaign to encourage the public to return the round coins. The Treasury estimates that £1.3bn of coins are being stored in savings jars, with £1 coins accounting for almost a third of these. They must be exchanged before 15 October when they will cease to be legal tender.
The first new £1 coin since 1983 is an attempt to end counterfeiting. It is estimated that 3% of the current coins in circulation are fake. The new coin will be the most secure in the world, it is claimed, with several security features, including a hologram.
David Gauke, the chief secretary to the Treasury, said: “28 March should be an important date in everybody’s calendar – as we will have a new quid on the block. Our message is clear: if you have a round £1 coin you need to spend it or return it to your bank before 15 October.”
About 40% of vending and other cash-receiving machines will have to be upgraded. The British Parking Association says each meter change will cost £90-£130 for the simplest software upgrade and considerably more if they are to issue change. The Royal Mint has put the cost of changing all the UK’s machines at £15m-£20m, although many experts believe this is optimistic.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said she believed businesses would be ready. “While there will be a natural transition period where some vending systems may only be able to accept the existing coin, our industry is committed to ensuring we’re fully prepared ahead of the launch.”
The Royal Mint has produced more than 2.2bn round £1 coins since 1983, when it replaced the note. This was withdrawn in March 1988, but is still redeemable at the Bank of England.
The Royal Mint will make more than 1.5bn of the new coins, whose design is based on the threepenny bit, which went out of circulation in 1971.