Why your supporters are wealthier than you expect. Course details.

One year left to spend or donate paper £20 and £50 notes

Howard Lake | 30 September 2021 | News

Bank of England announcement of date on which paper £20 and £50 notes cease to be legal tender. Image: Bank of England
One year left before the paper £20 and £50 notes cease to be legal tender. Image: Bank of England

One year today, on 30 September 2022, the Bank of England will with the ‘legal tender’ status of the ‘paper’ £20 and £50 notes. It is encouraging anyone who has these – there is about £24 billion in circulation – to spend them or deposit them at their bank or the Post Office.

These banknotes are being replaced with the new polymer notes introduced over the past few years – the £20 notes featuring JMW Turner and the £50 notes featuring Alan Turing. The new polymer £20 was first issued on 20 February 2020, and the polymer £50 note was first issued on 23 June 2021.

These notes complete the Bank of England’s first polymer series.


Why your supporters are wealthier than you think... Course by Catherine Miles. Background photo of two sides of a terraced street of houses.

After 30 September 2022 the new polymer notes will be the only ones with legal tender status.

£24 billion available!

The Bank of England estimates that there is £9 billion worth of paper £20 notes and £15 billion worth of paper £50 notes that are still in circulation. Those are the ones with respectively Adam Smith and Boulton & Watt on the reverse.

£20 notes - detail - photo: Howard Lake
Paper £20 note (detail). Photo: Howard Lake

Given the success of previous #FirstFiver and #LastFiver campaigns, and similar initiatives around the withdrawal and introduction of other banknotes, there is certainly an opportunity for charities to invite the public to donate some of that huge sum to charity within the next 12 months.

SEE ALSO: Fundraising opportunities from new and old banknotes and coins in 2017 (7 March 2017)

So charities will continue to receive paper £20s and £50s up until the deadline a year away, whether directly asked for or not. If you need reminding of how to check whether a banknote is genuine or not, the Bank of England shares guidance.

After 30 September 2022?

While the deadline of a year today is fixed, it will still be possible after 30 September 2022 to deposit a withdrawn paper note, provided you have a UK bank account. Some Post Offices may also accept withdrawn notes as payment for goods and services or as a deposit to an account accessed via them.

In addition the Bank of England will always continue to exchange any withdrawn banknote, including by post.

Scottish and Northern Ireland banknotes

The Bank of Scotland and Royal Bank of Scotland have also issued new polymer £50 notes.  

Both of these issuers, as well as Clydesdale Bank, will withdraw their paper £20 and £50 banknotes on the same date as the Bank of England, 30 September 2022. 

So the overall value of £20 and £50 paper banknotes across the UK is going to be higher even than £24 billion.

More banknote fundraising