- About $67 billion in cash is missing, according to the Public Accounts Committee, a group of UK ministers.
- The PAC in a Friday statement accused the Bank of England of not knowing where the money was, saying it might be used in the shadow economy.
- The Bank of England denied that the money is missing, but a Labour minister said it has been “stashed somewhere.”
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About $67 billion in cash is “missing,” possibly stashed in homes or used in the “shadow” economy, a group of UK ministers said Friday.
Nobody at the Bank of England seems to care too much about where the $67 billion in banknotes has gone. This was the view expressed on Friday by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which is responsible for overseeing government expenditures.
The committee accused the Bank of England of having a “lax attitude” about where the nation’s cash supply is ending up.
The money has been “stashed somewhere but the Bank of England doesn’t know where, who by or what for – and doesn’t seem very curious,” said Meg Hillier, a Labour minister and the PAC’s chair.
“Depending where it is and what it’s being used for, that amount of money could have material implications for public policy and the public purse. The Bank needs to get a better handle on the national currency it controls,” Hillier said in a statement.
The missing cash totals roughly 75% of the “precious and dwindling supply” of banknotes issued by the UK, said the 16-member PAC. The money is “missing” because the government doesn’t know where it is, not because it’s been misplaced or stolen. The cash could, for example, be held in homes locally or overseas as unreported savings.
But the billions could also be part of “the shadow economy,” the PAC added. It said some portion of the cash could be “being used for illegal purposes.”
The Bank of England has “always met the demand” for banknotes, and “will continue to do so,” a Bank of England spokesperson told BBC News on Friday
“Members of the public do not have to explain to the Bank why they wish to hold banknotes. This means that banknotes are not missing,” the spokesperson said.
The amount of available cash could have an effect on the livelihoods small businesses, many of which rely on customers paying with it. Many vulnerable consumers use cash, the PAC said. The Bank of England says between 20% and 24% of all notes are usually held for cash payments, but those percentages were separate from the billions that are “missing,” according to the PAC.
The committee made six recommendations on Friday, including asking the Bank of England to “address potential gaps in current oversight.” The committee also asked the bank to give the public more insight into its printing and storing of banknotes.