Harry Wallop, 11:06, Monday 8 March 2010
Have a look in your wallet: any £20 notes with the image of Edward Elgar on them will not be legal tender after June 30 this year.
This means that shops no longer have to accept the notes, and it is up to banks whether they agree to swap notes after this date.
From July 1 only notes with the image of Adam Smith, the Scottish economist, will be legal tender. These notes first came into circulation in March 2007.
About ten per cent of all £20 notes in circulation equating to 150 million notes, worth £3 billion are the old versions featuring the English composer. They were first introduced in June 1999 along with a view of the west face of Worcester Cathedral, replacing the previous series of notes featuring Michael Faraday, the physicist, and before that William Shakespeare.
Old notes will eventually be sent to one of the official Government incinerators, where they will burned alongside damaged notes. A small amount of thermoelectric power is generated by these sites, which also burn illegal tobacco seized by HM Revenue and Customs at British ports.
After June 1 if a bank or building society refuses to swap a note, consumers have the right to swap the notes at the Bank of England itself. The Bank promises that it will honour the face value of any note issued, even notes from before World War II. - www.telegraph.co.uk