As of September 30, paper notes will lose their legal tender status in an effort to tackle fake money. With more than £19 billion in paper notes in circulation, the £20 and £50 notes will be withdrawn in just over six months.
The Bank of England has said it will continue to exchange old notes for their face value, but warned households to use up the 775 million paper notes before the fall deadline or they would be rejected in stores. According to the Royal Mint, five years after losing their legal tender status, £105 million old style pound coins are in circulation.
The counterfeit five-sided £1 coin replaced the old round version on October 15, 2017. Of the 1.6 billion old-style coins that were returned, about 1.45 million were discovered to be counterfeits.
The old pound coins can still be deposited at high street banks, but cannot be spent in shops. As of June 23, 2021, the entire collection of currently printed banknotes has been made from plastic, with the polymer £50 note featuring Alan Turing completing the collection, The Mirror reports.
A spokeswoman explained that “all genuine Bank of England notes withdrawn from circulation will retain their face value forever”. People can also send old notes to the bank on Threadneedle Street, in the City of London, to be deposited into a bank account, by check or, “if you live in the UK and your exchange is worth less than £50”, bartered for new-style polymer ones.
If you have a UK bank account, the Bank of England said the easiest and fastest way to exchange £20 and £50 paper notes “is normally by depositing them with your bank”. Former Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, who led the introduction, said: “Polymer notes are safer than paper notes and last more than twice as long.”
However, ‘Plastic’ banknotes are not without problems.
Some security features on early polymer bills, including the queen’s face, can be wiped off with pencil erasers, and bills can shrink to a quarter of their size when ironed in a bag.
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