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Brits hold on to millions of useless £5 and £10 notes

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Written by: Paloma Kubiak
05/09/2018
An estimated £1.84bn worth of old paper £5 and £10 notes are yet to be returned to the Bank of England.

The Bank confirmed around 124 million paper £5 notes (£620m worth) and 122 million paper £10 notes (£1.22bn worth) are still floating around.

This includes unreturned Elizabeth Fry £5 and £10 Charles Darwin notes, as well as earlier paper denominations.

Banks and retailers started receiving new polymer £10 notes featuring author Jane Austen in September 2017 and the old notes came out of circulation in March this year.

The new polymer £5 note featuring Sir Winston Churchill entered circulation in September 2016 with the old note losing its legal tender status in May 2017.

If you have an old paper note, you won’t be able to spend them in shops but they can be exchanged at the Bank of England in London (via post or in person, though queues can be long). Some banks and building societies may also accept these from their own customers, but they’re not obliged to accept them.

The Bank of England said the number of unreturned paper £10 notes is broadly in-line with its expectations but the number of unreturned paper £5 notes is higher than anticipated.

It suggested the reason for this is likely to be that the £5 note is a lower denomination, with more of them having been lost or damaged over the years or kept as souvenirs.

Just last month is was revealed an estimated 169 million old round pound coins were still rattling around, months after losing their legal tender status.

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