A number of members of the public have admitted that they are feeling ‘concerned’ and ‘outraged’ after it emerged that Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne will announce in tomorrow’s Budget speech that all coins below the value of 50p will be phased out by 2021 – this will mean waving goodbye to the 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p and 20p coins. In a leaked email that we have seen at Southend News Network, it is estimated that the decision will save vending machine operators more than £25m per year, and there is also an indication that rising levels of inflation will make smaller coins ‘practically worthless’ within the next ten years.
Armed with this email, we took to the streets of Essex to ask people what they think of the decision. Leigh shopkeeper Bertrand Du Pamplemousse owns Artisan Cartes on Leigh Common Lane, and he said: ‘This is a bold move by Mr Osborne, and it will make my life a lot easier. I am already increasing prices every single day in my shop due to supply issues – only yesterday I was forced to raise all of my greetings cards prices to £9.99 – the extra penny won’t make any difference to my regulars. Also, having all of that loose change in your pocket can get very troublesome, and there isn’t always a charity collector or similar to give it to in the street.’
Barry Fist owns Fist’s Off Licence near Southend United’s stadium at Roots Hall, and he agrees with George Osborne’s proposal. He said: ‘On most matchdays, a load of people come in here and start chucking coins around – this should make people think twice as nobody wants to waste a load of money that could be better spent on everything that I sell. I am actually thinking of taking advantage of the situation and starting a couple of 50p and £1 lines with cheaper imported miniatures, and I think that these will go down a treat.’
Conservative MP for Foulness Island Sir Clive Cliveby added: ‘Prices are rising at such a rate that most of these smaller coins will be pretty pointless sooner rather than later, and therefore I applaud Mr Osborne’s efforts to make all of our lives that little bit easier. Imagine the thrill of visiting an amusement arcade and only being able to use 50p pieces in the coin pusher! As a party we are working harder and harder to make sure that working families have more cash in their pockets every single week, but there is little point in having a load of small change in an era of debit cards and contactless payments.’