New pound coin will be 12-sided version, says Chancellor George Osborne
Decision taken as an estimated 45 million of the £1 coins now in circulation are forgeries – three per cent of the total
Andrew Grice has been Political Editor of The Independent since 1998. He was previously Political Editor of The Sunday Times, where he worked for 10 years, and he has been a Westminster-based journalist since 1982. His column, Inside Politics, appears in The Independent each Saturday.
Wednesday 19 March 2014
The £1 coin is to be replaced by a new 12-sided version because it has become an easy target for forgers, George Osborne will announce in his Budget today.
The new pound coin, to be introduced from 2017, will have the same shape as the old three pence piece or “threepenny bit” which was withdrawn when the currency was decimalised in 1971.
An estimated 45 million of the £1 coins now in circulation are forgeries – three per cent of the total. In some parts of the UK, the figure is as high as six per cent. About 2m counterfeit £1 coins have been removed from circulation each year in recent years.
The Chancellor will tell the Commons the new pound coin will be “the most secure in the world.” It will be composed of two metals of different colours and include Royal Mint secure technology so it can be authenticated at every point in the cash cycle.
The Queen will be on the “heads” side of the coin, and there will be a public competition to decide what should appear on the “tails” side.
A Treasury source said: “After 30 years loyal service, the time is right to retire the current £1 coin. With advances in technology making high value coins like the £1 ever more vulnerable to counterfeiters, it’s vital that we keep several paces ahead of the criminals to maintain the integrity of our currency. We are particularly pleased that the coin will take a giant leap into the future, using cutting edge British technology while at the same time, paying a fitting tribute to past in the12-sided design of the iconic threepenny bit”.
The 'threepenny bit' was withdrawn in 1971
Presenting his fifth Budget, Mr Osborne will hail it as one for “a resilient economy.” He will claim the country has “held our nerve” and that the Government’s long-term economic plan is working.
But a Treasury source said last night: “The job is very far from done. Britain is still borrowing too much. We have to invest more and export more, and support growth in every part of our country and all parts of our economy. So the Budget will take the difficult decisions needed to build a resilient economy that delivers security for Britain’s hardworking people. That security and resilience comes from living in country that earns its way in the world, backs business, and helps people achieve their aspirations.”
Mr Osborne will speed up the next phase of the Government’s £450m drive to help the 120,000 “troubled families” with multiple problems. Up to 40,000 families will get extra support in the 2014-15 financial year, 12 months earlier than planned.
The programme ensures a “joined-up” approach by all the public services such families use. A “whole family” basis means that the state’s help tackles the root of the problems and aims to get children back into school, reduce youth crime and anti-social behaviour and get adults back to work.
Labour will dismiss Mr Osborne’s plan to raise the personal tax allowance from £10,000 next month to at least £10,500 in April next year. It will argue that this tax cut will be dwarfed by “24 Tory tax rises” since the Coalition was formed in 2010. Chris Leslie, a Labour Treasury spokesman, said: “We need a Budget that tackles the cost of living crisis which has left working people £1,600 a year worse off under the Tories. It’s the same old Tory con – giving with one hand while taking away much more with the other. The VAT rise alone has cost families with children an average of £1,350 over the last three years.”
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