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Wednesday, 14 November, 2001, 17:24 GMT
Britons hold 540m in eurozone cash
Euro notes
Euro notes will be introduced in January
About 540m of eurozone currency is lying around in UK households according to a new survey.

But only half the population realise that they will not be able to spend this cash in shops on the continent after February next year.

The survey, which was carried out for Barclays Bank, found that each household has an average of about 35-worth of eurozone currencies knocking about their homes.

The money is usually left over scraps from holidays or business trips abroad.

Less than two months to go

On 1 January eurozone currencies, such as the French franc and German deutschmark, will begin to be replaced with the new euro notes and coins.

But the survey found that only 52% of people realised that this was the case, and nearly a third of respondents had no idea that any change was taking place.

More than 70% of people said that they did not know enough about what the arrival of the new euro currency will mean for them.

'Use it, don't lose it'

"The survey has produced some surprising results, which show that although there is a considerable level of interest in the introduction of euro notes, there is still plenty of work to be done before people know exactly how it will affect them," said Mike Watts of Barclays.

He added that people should start to think about what they want to do with any currency they may have before the end of the year.

"Our recommendation is: 'Use it, don't lose it', and if possible, change any extra foreign currency that you have at home as soon as you can."

Changing times

The 12 countries of the eurozone are France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Greece, Portugal, Finland, Austria, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Belgium, and Ireland.

In most of those countries the national currency will still be accepted as payment until 28 February 2002, but change will be given in euros.

After that date, changing the old money will become more tricky.

People holding the old national currencies will have to go to banks to swap them for euros.

From July 2002 onwards, banks can refuse to take the old currencies, but the central banks in the eurozone have pledged to accept their old national coinage indefinitely.

See also:

30 Aug 01 | UK Politics
Hain hints about euro entry
09 Oct 00 | UK Politics
Britons think euro entry 'inevitable'
29 Jun 00 | UK Politics
Blair: No two-speed Europe
30 Jul 01 | UK Politics
Clarke: Euro poll not party political
29 Jul 01 | UK Politics
No euro purge says Duncan Smith
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