Should the £50 note be scrapped?

By Chris Dawson February 9, 2016 - 8:55 pm

£50There are calls to scrap the £50 note along with high denomination notes in other countries, claiming it would cut financial crime and terrorism. That’s the opinion of a report from Harvard Kennedy School led by Peter Sands, the former Chief Executive of Standard Chartered Bank.

I can see the organised crime argument, but apparently if you have some work done on your house you’re likely to pay the builder or plumber in £50 notes so that they can avoid paying VAT. If you’re the dodgy builder you’re likely to pay your workers in cash to avoid income tax.

I have to say if I ever end up with a £50 note it’s often a pain in the neck to spend it. You either get looked at while the shop assistant holds it up to the light, checks it under ultraviolet, using a pen test and then still gets their boss to OK it before they give you your change.

What ever you do, don’t try to spend a £50 note in one of those infernal automated supermarket checkouts, they only accept fivers, tenners and twenties. The only and only time I tried to insert a £50, the checkout supervisor was very sniffy about going and breaking it into tenners so that I could pay the robot for my purchases.

The big argument for scrapping the £50 note is that in today’s world of instant bank transfers, PayPal and other electronic money transfer services plus mobile enabled card readers, in general the average person has no need to make large cash transactions.

On a more practical note I wouldn’t miss the £50 note simply because most of the time it’s just too inconvenient to wait while the intended recipient makes sure it’s not a fake. Give me a couple of twenties and a tenner any day.

  • 2 years ago

    If anyone doesn’t want any of the £50 notes they have in their possession, I’m happy to provide my address. Send them to me: I promise not so spend them on terrorism.

  • Mark H
    2 years ago

    The only time I have used £50/100* notes was when I bought my car. Was a lot easier to carry than lower denomination notes.

    They did look a bit underwhelming- older design, tatty notes. They were handed over at the business counter of my bank (was directed there by the main consumer banking counter) without any of the usual security checks (withdraw a few hundred and they ask about your previous transactions- withdraw a few thousand and they hand it over!).

    I had to verify the end of night cash count at a previous job and there was often some £50 notes in the days taking. I found that puzzling as they are not issued by cash machines.

    With at least 4 designs in circulation (>7 if you include £100 notes) training staff to recognise them must be a problem.

    *Scottish banks issue £100 notes

  • Tinker
    2 years ago

    If you think £50 are a pain Try spending a scottish note south of Birmingham
    As to forgery , its fivers and £1 coins that the silly buggers need to check as no one gives those a second glance,

    • 2 years ago

      I see your Scottish notes, and agree they are bleeding tricky to spend, (Only Marks never quibbles), and I raise you Ulster notes if you really want a challenge in England. Try spending those!

  • 2 years ago

    Cornwall being predominately a Tourist Area sees many Scottish Bank notes. Some businesses panic at the sight of them others just give them the usual check and accept them. Although once accepted they tend not to be issued to customers in their change and are the first to be put into the days Banking. So if you have Scottish Notes please feel free to come to Cornwall to spend them.

    As far high denomination Bank Notes are concerned I rarely see them. I can remember many years ago I did an event in London and took one. I was a little concerned about it as I was not that familiar with them. So on the way home I used it in the first garage I came to to buy petrol. I was a lot happier driving down the road without it.

    The idea of scrapping high denomination Bank Notes is not a New One. It has been around for many years. The main reason quoted was to stop Criminals, especially such as Drug Dealers using them to transfer their ill gotten gains so easily. After all a case containing £50 notes is a lot smaller and lighter than a case containing the same value in £20 notes. So is much more visible to such as Police etc. Not going to worry me as I rarely have more that £100 in my wallet and certainly no £50 notes. So scrap them I say.

  • elvis
    2 years ago

    Keep them. It’s the bleddy 1p, 2p and 5p coins we need to get rid off.

  • james
    2 years ago

    doing away with cash completely would cut down on crime, certain kinds of crime at least, for a short while.

    doing away with 50’s wont.

    christ sake it’s too difficult to train staff to recognise a whole FOUR different sheets of paper?
    – better cut it down to three to be safe, the whole country are morons who cant recognise Money, despite using it their entire lives.

    i have no doubt the parties involved in campaigning to do away with 50’s have some financial interest in Mastercard or Visa, and insist you give them 2% evey time you buy something more expensive than lunch.

    • Kyle
      2 years ago

      They don’t want to get rid of high denomination notes because of cashiers, builders, etc. They want want to get rid of them due to how many you can fit in a stack, suitcase, etc. £50 notes are 2.5x as dense as £20 notes so it’s also 2.5x easier to hide and transport the same amount of money.

      I thought they already got rid of the 500 Euro note because of this but apparently not.

    • Rachael
      2 years ago

      I worked in a major supermarket for 6 months in my late teens and I saw one £50 note in that time. We were never even trained how to spot a fake £50 note, just to call the team leader over to verify if you ever did get one, they didn’t really seem to really know either.

      I’m 28 now and that’s the only time I’ve ever even seen one never mind handled one.

    • james
      2 years ago

      they do that so the customer knows better than to annoy you with a £50 again next time.

    • tinker
      2 years ago

      stop £50s and the naughty boys will just use Gold bullion or expensive watches to trade with

    • 2 years ago

      If we are going to suggest banning Gold Bullion or expensive watches what about cut diamonds…When will it ever end??? No lets just ban high denomination Banknotes. I am sure we all seen the criminals in some crime drama with massive amounts of money on pallets that can only be moved by forklift truck. If we ban the high denomination Banknotes it makes the criminals job a lot harder.

    • james
      2 years ago

      i’ve seen TV dramas with actual angels in, with wings and everything. maybe we get them to solve the problem?

    • Kyle
      2 years ago

      James, you joke, but Christ T isn’t wrong. See these articles:

      £1m in gold currently weights about 36kg whereas £1m in €500 notes weights 2kg.

  • David Brackin
    2 years ago

    Like many such proposals (ban the internet!) (ban cars!) you catch as many good users as bad.

    Reds aren’t bad in and of themselves — although the fact they don’t come out of ATMs — and so tend not to be the preserve of the wageslave — does add an air of mystery about them.

    If you accept that cash is useful then a fifty is just more useful. Get rid of cash and you allow negative interest rates.

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