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I have received correspondence that includes the sentence:

The buyer (or debt collection agency) will offer you pence in the pound irrespective of how I reply.

What does "Pence in the pound" mean?

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    It's likely a typo or mistranscription for pence on the pound, or for Americans like me pennies on the dollar. That is, for every pound (dollar) the item is actually worth, they agency will only give you a handful of pence (pennies) for it. They'll only pay you a small percent of what it's worth.
    – Dan Bron
    Jul 29, 2015 at 15:57
  • Could be. We need more information about the type of deal to be certain. Jul 29, 2015 at 16:05

2 Answers 2

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This is an unusual usage -- normally pence in the pound refers to tax rates when it's equivalent to percent. Here it's more like an anglicised "pennies on the dollar" (related question) meaning a small fraction of the nominal value.

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Pence in the pound

I’ve just watched the news tonight, and apparently today the Bank of England dropped the base interest rate to “one and half pence in the pound.”

I’m totally shocked ...

If was measuring anything else but money, of course, it would be 1.5%.

Matt Godbolt's blog

It is a measure of how many pennies per pound are gained or lost in some financial transaction.

Examples

Income tax has risen by one and a half pence in the pound. (1.5%)

This investment will yield 10 pence in the pound annually. (10%)

There will be a reduction in the price of milk of 2 pence in the pound. (2%)

etc.

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  • Very interesting. Could this definition with "in" fit in the example? perhaps the author confused the two expressions and did in fact mean "pence on the pound". I suppose we need more context.
    – cmcf
    Jul 29, 2015 at 16:47
  • It is very dated, in Britain, to use this expression - pence in the pound. Nowadays almost everything of this kind is expressed as a percentage. Incidentally the Bank of England's base rate is 0.5% (not 1.5%) and has been for the last 6 or 7 years (since the crash).
    – WS2
    Jul 29, 2015 at 21:10

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