“I’m not a fan of the new pound coin, but then again, I hate all change.”
That was judged the funniest one-liner at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival, told by comedian Ken Cheng. He ‘coined’ the gag after the government unveiled plans for the new 12-sided two-colour and ‘fake-proof’ £1 coin back in 2014.
For the past six months we’ve all been getting used to the shiny new £1 coins, and time is now fast running out on the old ‘round pound’, of which it was estimated one in 30 was a fake. The date for the old £1 coin to be officially withdrawn from circulation is October 16th – that’s next Monday, just a few days away.
More than 1.2 billion of the old coins have been gradually taken out of circulation over the past six months, gradually replaced in our purses and wallets by their new counterpart. But that still leaves millions of the old £1 coins out there and many shoppers have expressed anger at still being handed them in their change, when shops should have been separating and banking the old coins to take them out of circulation.
In some cases, supermarket self-service checkouts have been giving out the old £1 coins in change, and then to add insult to injury the supermarket has refused to exchange them for new ones, insisting they must be spent, not swapped. Meanwhile, some vending machines, parking meters and even coin-operated supermarket trolleys have still not been modified to accept the new 12-sided £1 coin.
Responding to claims that there are still too many of the old coins in people’s pockets and purses, a handful of retailers, including Tesco and Poundland, have said they will continue to accept them for a short period of a week or two beyond the October 16th deadline. That might sound odd, but the Royal Mint has always said that the old £1 coins can still be banked after they cease to be legal tender for general transactions.
If you have a forgotten pile of the old £1 coins at home, you will still be able to take them to a bank, building society or post office after October 16th and either pay them into an account or exchange them for new £1 coins.
Even so, it’s worth your while spending a few minutes having a hunt around your home to discover anywhere the old pound coins might be lurking, then get them spent or banked over the next few days. If you have any savings jars or old purses or handbags, have a quick rifle through them. It could be worth taking a look down the back of the sofa or going through the pockets of any clothes you haven’t worn for a while.
Piggy banks for children or grandchildren are another place where the old round pounds might be lurking, or what about the emergency parking meter money you keep in the car? Did you every have one of those spring-loaded £1 coin dispensers that might still be ‘loaded’, or what about that drawer that always has a bit of loose change in for just in case?
Some people will probably still be turning up old £1 coins months and even years from now, but even then you will still be able to return them directly to The Bank of England and exchange them for current coinage. Of course, you would need to have quite a stash to make it worthwhile!
Having turned up any old £1 coins and got rid of them, you should certainly refuse to accept them in change after October 16th, as they will no longer be legal tender. So make sure you check your change carefully, rather than just giving it a cursory glance.
Remember, the new £1 coin has 12 sides, like the old ‘thrupenny bit’ and it is made of two different coloured metals, with a silver centre and a gold-coloured outer ring. It is also slightly thinner and lighter than the old version.
If you’re wondering what happens to all those old £1 coins, they will be melted down and the metal used to help make the new ones.