The Post Office is preparing for a “last-moment” rush of customers depositing paper £20 and £50 banknotes this week, before they can no longer be used in shops or to pay businesses.
This Friday, 30 September, is the last day the Bank of England’s paper £20 and £50 banknotes will have legal tender status, having been replaced by new polymer versions.
According to the Bank, there are still more than £5bn worth of paper £20 featuring the economist Adam Smith in circulation, and nearly £6bn worth of £50 notes featuring the entrepreneur Matthew Boulton and the engineer James Watt.
“That’s more than 250m individual £20 banknotes, and more than 110m paper £50 banknotes,” the Bank said.
So far this month, more than £100m worth of the notes have been deposited at Post Office branches.
After Friday, people will still be able to deposit paper notes at their Post Office, and many UK banks will also accept the notes as deposits from customers.
The polymer £20 note features the artist JMW Turner, and the polymer £50 note features the Bletchley Park codebreaker Alan Turing.
Post office operators have their branches set up to handle large volumes of cash, with more than £3bn in cash deposited and withdrawn at branches every month.
Martin Kearsley, the banking director of the Post Office, said: “We’re fully aware that people lead busy lives and some may put off depositing their paper £20 and £50 banknotes until the last moment.
“Postmasters and their staff are on hand to provide that human reassurance that your old notes have been deposited into your bank account and will provide a receipt too. Most Post Offices are open long hours including on Friday.”