Bank of England issues warning as millions of £20 notes are about to expire

The Bank of England has issued a warning as almost £ 19bn worth of old banknotes are about to expire.

Paper £ 20 and £ 50 notes will not be accepted as legal tender from September 30 under a shake-up to tackle fake money. They have been replaced with new polymer versions, which have been in circulation since 2020 – as Mirror Online reports. The new £ 20 featuring JMW Turner was released into circulation on February 20 – while the new £ 50 dedicated to Alan Turing was released on June 23 2021. The Turner £ 20 and Turing £ 50 make up the new series of polymer notes with the Winston Churchill £ 5 and Jane Austen £ 10.

The paper versions of £ 5 and £ 10 banknotes have already been withdrawn. The Bank of England said it will continue to swap old notes for their face value, but households are being warned to use up the 775 million paper notes before the autumn deadline.

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Details of the cash still in circulation or hiding in homes was revealed in a Freedom of Information requests by BBC Wales. The request found that 360 million paper £ 20 notes remain in circulation and 209 million paper £ 50 notes remain in circulation.

A spokeswoman explained that “all genuine Bank of England banknotes that have been withdrawn from circulation retain their face value for all time”. People can also post old notes to the bank in Threadneedle Street, in the City of London, to be paid into a bank account, by check or, “if you live in the UK and your exchange is worth less than £ 50”, swapped for new-style polymer ones.

If you have a UK bank account, the Bank of England said the simplest and quickest way to exchange paper £ 20 and £ 50 notes “will normally be to deposit them with your bank”. Former Bank of England governor Mark Carney – who spearheaded their introduction – said: “Polymer notes are safer than paper notes and last more than twice as long.” ‘Plastic’ banknotes are not without issues though.

Some security features on early polymer notes, including the Queen’s face, could be rubbed off with pencil erasers, and notes can shrink to a quarter of their size if ironed while inside a pocket.

According to the Royal Mint, there are also £ 105m old one pound coins in circulation, five years since losing their tender status. The round £ 1 coin was demonetised at midnight on 15 October 2017 and replaced by a new five-sided version that is counterfeit proof.

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