The confirmation last week of the new design for the Bank of England £20 banknote prompted the #icaewchartoftheweek to look at the value of banknotes in circulation.
There are just over 2bn paper £20 notes in circulation together worth £40.1bn, more in both number and value terms that the polymer £5 note (396m worth £2.0bn), polymer £10 note (1,052m worth £10.5bn) and the paper £50 note (over 344m worth £17.2bn). This amounts to a total of £69.8bn, not including £4.3bn in high value notes issued to Scottish and Northern Irish banks that in turn print their own banknotes.
On average there are approximately 6 five pound, 17 ten pound, 32 twenty pound and 5 fifty pound notes in circulation for each person living in the UK.
Replacing the existing £20 note with a new polymer design featuring a young J M W Turner will be a much bigger exercise than it was for the £5 and £10 polymer replacements, albeit it is unclear as to how many will be missing in action, having been lost down the back of sofas, hidden away in cupboards, or otherwise misplaced over the 12 and a half years that the current version has been in circulation.
The Bank of England has said the new polymer £20 note will start to be circulated on 20 February 2020. However, it has yet to announce a firm date for the final withdrawal of the current paper £20 note, likely to be in early 2021. Fortunately, Bank of England banknotes remain exchangeable forever.
For more information, visit www.bankofengland.co.uk/news/2019/october/the-new-20-note-unveiled or www.bankofengland.co.uk/statistics/banknote.