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Mixed response to keeping coppers

Voluntary sector bodies have given a mixed response to the government’s decision to keep 1p and 2p coins. The Institute of Fundraising and the Directory of Social Change welcomed the move, but the Charity Finance Group says withdrawing coppers could present opportunities for charities.

Philip Hammond, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, confirmed there would be no changes to existing coins or notes "for years to come". Hammond announced a consultation on the role of cash and digital payments in the UK economy in last year's Spring Statement, including the discontinuation of 1p and 2p coins.

This prompted fears of a decline in donations, but Hammond said he was setting up a group to "safeguard the future of cash and ensure its availability for years to come". He said: "Technology has transformed banking for millions of people, making it easier and quicker to carry out financial transactions and pay for services. But it’s also clear that many people still rely on cash and I want the public to have choice over how they spend their money."

Lizzie Ellis, Policy and Information Officer at the Institute of Fundraising, said it was pleased the Treasury had recognised the concerns of charities. Lizzie said: "We know that the importance of these coins is not just in the value that they amount to, pockets full of change means charities can have buckets and collection tins at train stations and supermarkets, giving them a public presence in people’s everyday lives and reminding them to give regularly.”

But David Ainsworth, sector specialist at the Charity Finance Group, said there was £300m in circulation in 1p and 2p coins and the loss of copper coins would present two opportunities. "The first is that we could run a windfall campaign to get people to give their coppers to charity, which could see a fairly hefty chunk of that £300m ending up in the hands of the sector," he said. "The second is that it would give us an opportunity to talk about the transition away from cash, and maybe make a case to improve visibility and tax relief around things like contactless giving and mobile giving".

The impact on the charity sector was highlighted in a number of consultation responses, according to the consultation document Cash and Digital Payments in the New Economy: Summary of Responses. The document highlights concerns about the impact on bucket donations and says small charities are more likely to depend on cash. It adds that some charities lack the equipment and skills to accept digital payments and dormant coins "represent significant stored value" for charities.

Read: Third Sector – Mixed response to government decision to keep 1p and 2p coins.