THE new 12-sided £1 coin has gone into production a year before it starts to reach people’s pockets.

The coins have started rolling off the production line at a rate of more than 4,000 a minute as Chancellor George Osborne announced they will enter circulation in March 2017.

When the new coin is introduced, there will be a six-month crossover period when the current round pound coins and the new pound coins are both in circulation.

Businesses handling cash will need to plan and prepare for the new coins.

The Royal Mint will work with businesses during the introduction phase of the new coin and an awareness and education campaign is planned to help ensure a smooth transition to launch in 2017.

The current £1 coin is being replaced for the first time in more than 30 years because of its vulnerability to sophisticated counterfeiters.

The new 12-sided coin, which resembles the old threepenny bit, will be the world’s most secure coin in circulation, the Government said.

More than 2.2 billion circulating round £1 coins have been struck during the time they have been in use. Replacing £1 notes, the coins were first launched on April 21, 1983. But, in recent years, as many as three pound coins in every 100 in people’s change have been fake. This equates to about 45 million pound coins being duds.

The new, two-coloured coin was announced in the 2014 Budget. It measures just over 2.3 centimetres in diameter.