Old bank notes: Paper £20 and £50 paper not legal tender from October 2022

Revealed: There’s £24bn worth of old paper £20 and £50 notes still in circulation – and just one year left to spend them or exchange them easily

  • There are £9bn worth of £20 paper notes still in circulation, BofE says 
  • Roughly £15bn worth of £50 paper notes too 
  • After 30 September 2022, they will no longer be legal tender 

There is £24billion worth of old paper £20 and £50 notes still in circulation, according to new data from the Bank of England.

This is made up of £9billion worth of £20 notes – approximately 450million notes, or eight for every adult in Britain.

Meanwhile, there are £15billion worth of £50 notes, roughly 300million notes – or five for each adult in Britain.

It warns it will be withdrawing legal tender status of these notes after 30 September 2022 and is encouraging people to either spend them, or deposit them at their bank or Post Office before this date.

Out with the old: Top, the old style paper £50 note and below, the new style polymer one

Out with the old: Top, the old style paper £50 note and below, the new style polymer one

They have been replaced with new polymer notes – the £20 version features J.M.W. Turner and the £50 Alan Turing.

After the cut-off date, those with a UK bank account may be able to deposit them in branches of their own bank, but this varies and limits can apply, as they are not legally obliged to accept them.

The Bank of England says the Post Office may also accept withdrawn notes as payment for goods and services or as a deposit to an account – but not as an exchange.

Failing that, people would be forced to visit the Bank of England in Threadneedle Street, London, to exchange notes or send them in via post, which comes with its own risks.

Shops and other services will also no longer be legally required to accept them from 30 September 2022.

The Bank of England says: ‘”Legal tender” means that if a debtor pays in legal tender the exact amount they owe under the terms of a contract, they have a good defence in law if they are subsequently sued for non-payment of the debt.

‘In practice, the concept of “legal tender” does not govern the acceptability of banknotes as a means of payment. This is essentially a matter for agreement between the parties involved.’

Sarah John, chief cashier at the Bank of England, said: ‘In recent years we have been changing our banknotes from paper to polymer because this makes them more difficult to counterfeit, and means they are more durable.

‘We want to remind the public that they have one year from today to spend their paper banknotes.’

The new polymer £20 was issued on 20 February 2020, and the polymer £50 note on 23 June 2021, which is when paper versions started to be withdrawn from circulation.

It means the Bank of England has given far less notice of withdrawing paper £50 notes and as a result, far more remain in circulation relative to paper £20 notes.

Clydesdale Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland and Bank of Scotland are also in the process of withdrawing their paper £20 and £50 notes and also suggests that retailers and the public spend or deposit these notes by 30 September 2022.

The Bank of England says that the introduction of polymer banknotes allows for a new generation of security features which make them even harder to counterfeit.

The notes are said to be resistant to dirt and moisture and so remain in better condition for longer. 

These notes also have tactile features that allow the blind and partially sighted to use them.

Recent data from the Bank of England also showed there are 114million £5 paper notes and 76million £10 notes out there, which have already stopped being legal tender. 

But this is a far smaller total amount compared to the total value of paper £20 and £50 notes out there. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk