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Kent businesses facing huge bills as new £1 coin comes out

By Geoffrey Bew

Businesses across Kent are facing huge bills as the new £1 coin comes into circulation next month.

It is being introduced by the government to thwart the activities of “sophisticated counterfeiters” who have cost the UK economy an estimated £45 million in recent years.

The 12-sided coin, which resembles the old ‘threepenny bit’ and incorporates emblems from the four home nations, will be introduced on March 28.

An Ivor Thomas engineer adapting a coin mechanism to fit the new £1 coins
An Ivor Thomas engineer adapting a coin mechanism to fit the new £1 coins

It comes just six months after the new £5 note came into circulation.

And industry insiders fear some businesses may go bust as a result of the extra costs involved, particular with a new £10 note being introduced in September and plans for a new £20 note already on the horizon.

The new £1 coin is having a huge impact on family-run Ramsgate company Ivor Thomas Amusements, which hires and maintains fruit machines, jukeboxes, and pool tables in pubs and clubs throughout Kent, Sussex, Surrey, Essex, Hampshire, London and the South East.

It is in the process of changing more than 2,000 coin-operated vending machines which involves site visits to install a reprogrammed mechanism at each of its locations – costing the firm around £100,000.

Paul Thomas, managing director, said: “There are hundreds of outside influences that can affect any business, from the weather to political change.

“To say we should not have to bear the cost of change would be like a company saying they shouldn’t have to bear the cost of upgrading software to keep it more secure.

“This, like any other outside change is part and parcel of business and it has to be budgeted for.

“With new £10 notes and £20 notes being introduced at different times within the next year, businesses are going to be hit hard, with four separate changes within the space of 18 months.

“Had the government considered the financial impact on businesses, then perhaps we would have seen these changes take place in one go.”

“Businesses are going to be hit hard, with four separate changes within the space of 18 months" - Ivor Thomas Amusements managing director Paul Thomas

As much as 3% of £1 coins in circulation in the UK in the ‘last few years’ have been counterfeit and the government says the new version will be the most secure in the world.

Mike Cherry, national chairman at the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “The new £1 coin is likely to affect a large number of businesses across a range of sectors that handle cash, especially those using automated machines.

“It’s vital the Royal Mint and government use the next six weeks to raise as much awareness as possible of what’s coming for small firms, helping them to avoid any additional administrative and financial costs.

“Those firms affected will need clear guidance to ensure they are taking all the necessary steps to prepare for March 28.”

The new £1 coin was designed by then 15-year-old David Pearce, a pupil at Queen Mary’s Grammar School in Walsall, who won a competition entered by more than 6,000 people.

The existing £1 coin will cease to be legal tender on October 15 and the government estimates £400 million in loose change is lying around homes across the UK in jars and behind sofa cushions.

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