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Loose change mounts up to £50m as cash loses lustre

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UK consumers have fallen out of love with cash during the pandemic, leaving more loose change languishing in our homes. UK Finance urges everyone to donate their coins to charities.


We’ve always let a few pence slip down the back of the sofa, but since the pandemic struck we have been holding onto coins for three times longer than usual. Due to the Covid-19 lockdowns and the move away from ‘dirty’ money towards using ‘cleaner’ cards, we have handled far less cash, and when we have encountered coins we have been far more likely to stash them away at home than spend them or drop them into a charity collection box.

Financial services trade body UK Finance (UKFI) calculates that collectively the UK’s consumers are now  sitting on piles of loose change worth an estimated £50 million.

Much of this is made up of smaller denomination coins – more than half of those surveyed by UKFI said they usually leave 1p, 2p, 5p and 10p change at home.

Meanwhile, the Charities Aid Foundation found that over half the charities they spoke to last year had seen a drop in donations. At the same time, 39 per cent of the charities they surveyed reported increased demand for help from those in need.

So, UKFI and the Charities Aid Foundation are now asking people to think about unearthing their shrapnel, and donating it to good causes.

Donating accumulated loose change would provide a real benefit to charities and would reduce the need to mint new coins, which is better for the environment – both in terms of production and distribution.

Eric Leenders, managing director of Personal Finance at UKFI said:

“Putting your pennies in a charity box is a great way to help those in need.

“The public has stored over £50 million of loose change over the course of the pandemic and as the UK is opening up post-lockdown every pound and penny that can be spared for worthy causes will make a tremendous difference.”

Neil Heslop, chief executive of the Charities Aid Foundation, said:

“Our UK Giving Covid-19 Special Report revealed that cash donations to charities, normally the country’s most popular way of giving, saw a substantial decline during 2020 and remain at very low levels compared to previous years.

“As charities struggle to resume fundraising, while continuing to work on the frontlines of the response to the pandemic, donating spare loose change would be a huge show of much-needed support at a critical time.”


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