The Royal Mint has no plans to mint any new £2 or 2p coins for the next decade, as its stockpile of coins remains high amid falling cash usage in the UK.
You may never see the year 2020 on a 2p coin. Or 2021, 2022, 2023 and beyond.
This is because the country has enough 2p and £2 coins to last for at least 10 years, according to a new report by the National Audit Office (NAO) into the production and distribution of cash.
Does this turn the 2ps and £2s you have in your piggy bank into rare collectibles? Well, no. But it could have implications for coin collectors, and for those who rely on cash every day as a form of payment.
Why doesn’t the Royal Mint need to mint new £2s and 2ps?
Cash was the most frequently used form of payment until 2017, the NAO says.
Ten years ago, cash was used in six in 10 transactions. By 2019 it was under three in 10, according to the report. But this isn’t just a case of lack of demand.
When the new, 12-sided £1 coin was introduced in 2017, people across the country had to swap their old £1s for new ones at the bank, or pay them into their accounts. As they searched through their change, many found old coins of other denominations and paid them in as well.
This left the country with a huge stock of coins in reserve. The Royal Mint aims to have 11 week’s worth of most coins at any one time. But, according to the report, at the moment it has:
- six times more 1ps than it needs;
- eight times more 2ps than it needs;
- 26 times more £2s than it needs.
The result: it won’t need new £2s or 2ps for at least 10 years.
It’s a different story for notes, however. Despite the fall in cash usage, demand for notes has risen for the past 20 years.
In July 2020 there were a record high 4.4bn notes in circulation, worth a staggering £76.5bn.
According to the Bank of England, only 20%-24% of these notes are being used for cash transactions. Some 5% are being kept by savers.
The other roughly 70%? It’s a mystery. The Bank doesn’t know for sure what £50bn of notes are doing out there. It’s possible they’re being used in the so-called ‘shadow economy’.
- Find out more: how much are your banknotes worth?
Will this make my £2s and 2ps rare?
It won’t. Because so many of them are in circulation already – and many are in stock waiting to be circulated (or re-circulated) – the average coin won’t become any more scarce. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t £2s and 2ps that are valued on the collectors’ market.
We wrote about rare £2 coins on the denomination’s 20th anniversary in 2018. At the time, the most valuable £2s were the four 2002 Glasgow Commonwealth Games series, each fetching over £50 on eBay.
According to Change Checker’s £2 Scarcity Index – which tracks the value of a coin based on numbers circulating and collector behaviour – this is still the case today.
The graphic below shows how much each of them could be worth:
So if you have Commonwealth Games £2 coins, it’s worth hanging onto them. But there are almost no recent 2ps that are considered valuable since they’ve all had one of two designs – and mintage figures in the tens or hundreds of millions each year – since 1971.
- Find out more: the rarest coins of 2019
Will retailers stop accepting £2s and 2ps?
While The Royal Mint won’t make any new £2s or 2ps for the decade, the coins should continue to be accepted as payment by retailers.
However, during the coronavirus crisis, many people have had trouble paying for things in cash, as stores aren’t always accepting it as a form of payment.
A Which? survey in May found one in ten shoppers had cash payments rejected by retailers, with a quarter (26%) of those forced to leave because they had no alternative way of paying.
It’s thought that COVID-19 could accelerate the decline of cash if no action is taken, leaving many in the country with no way to pay for essential goods.
Cash usage is in decline, but it’s still vitally important to millions of people in the UK – many of them vulnerable, elderly and on low incomes.
If you’ve been unable to pay with cash during the pandemic, tell us about your experience using our cash acceptance tool to help our research.