A NEW design for the pound coin inspired by the old threepenny bit is to be unveiled by Chancellor George Osborne in his Budget.
The 12-sided pound coin will be phased in from 2017, replacing the current coin and, like its predecessor, it is set to have designs on the back which will reflect all four UK nations.
The design has been brought in to make the currency more secure against forgeries, the UK government said.
Royal Mint estimates around 3 per cent of the 45 million £1 coins in circulation are fake and, over the past few years, two million forgeries have been taken out of circulation.
The new coin will have a bi-metalic construction in two colours and include the Mint’s new Integrated Secure Identification System (iSIS) technology, meaning every coin can be authenticated via high-speed detection at all points of exchange.
A spokesman for Mr Osborne said: “After 30 years’ loyal service, the time is right to retire the current £1 coin and replace it with the most secure coin in the world.
“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. Mr Osborne is 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 the past in the 12-sided design of the iconic threepenny bit”.
The old threepenny – or “thrupenny bit” – was in circulation from 1937 until decimalisation in 1971. It was also in the first group of coins ever to feature the portrait of the Queen. The threepenny coined in 1953, when the Queen was crowned, bore a design of a chained portcullis, which was inherited by the 1p piece after decimalisation and remains on the coin today. It is also the badge of the Palace of Westminster.
It was popular during the Second World War because its distinct shape made it the easiest coin to recognise during blackouts.
Chief executive of Royal Mint, Adam Lawrence, said the new coin could potentially change the way currency is made in the future. He said: “The current £1 coin design is now more than 30 years old and it has become increasingly vulnerable to counterfeiting over time. It is our aim to produce a pioneering new coin which helps reduce the opportunities for counterfeiting, helping to boost public confidence in the UK’s currency in the process.”
Treasury sources pointed out the new pound will not be formally used in Scotland if voters support independence in the referendum on 18 September because the main political parties have rejected currency union.
The new coin will mean changes to parking ticket and vending machines, but the industry welcomed the move. The Automatic Vending Association and British Parking Association both said any help beating counterfeiters was to be applauded.
The announcement comes in the penultimate Budget before the 2015 election and last before the independence referendum. It is expected to feature up to £2,000 a year of childcare payments for families and to include income tax cuts.