Aside from taking them to the bank to swap for proper cash, when was the last time you actually paid for something with some copper coins? Shops don't like them, and I've had bus drivers refuse to take them in the past. The government's realised this too, and the Chancellor's Spring Statement mentions that it'll look into getting rid of the bastard things.
It should be made clear now, there are no plans to actually get rid of copper coins (and £50 notes, which are similarly reviled). Instead a consultation is being launched to gauge their usefulness, seeing as how so many people buy stuff with contactless cards and phones these days. The document says:
"From an economic perspective, having large numbers of denominations that are not in demand, saved by the public, or in long-term storage at cash processors rather than used in circulation does not contribute to an efficient or cost effective cash cycle."
The main problem is that copper coins almost never get used more than a handful of times, with 60 per cent only getting used once before they end up being stored in the family change tin or the bin. Apparently people really do throw them away, with the the document claiming a twelfth of all copper coins. It has me wondering how crazy people are because that's perfectly good money that they're literally throwing away.
It's small amounts, but still!
The £50 is under scrutiny due to how small it is in comparison to other countries' largest bills, and the fact they're most held oversees "as a store of value". The document also notes that people associate the £50 note with money laundering, tax evasion, and criminal activity. Plus there's the fact they're always under scrutiny by businesses, because nobody can ever tell if they're the real thing.
So the near future might see the penny and two penny coins die off. I can't want for everything to cost even numbers, rather than X.99. [BBC News]