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UK bank notes to switch to plastic in 2016

The Bank of England has confirmed that the next £5 and £10 banknotes will be printed on plastic as it makes the switch from the current cotton paper.

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

UK bank notes to switch to plastic in 2016

The Bank of England has confirmed that the next £5 and £10 banknotes will be printed on plastic as it makes the switch from the current cotton paper.

The new polymer notes will retain the familiar look of Bank of England banknotes, including the portrait of Her Majesty the Queen and a historical character. The first polymer note will be a £5 note featuring Sir Winston Churchill which will be issued in 2016. It will be followed around a year later by a £10 note featuring Jane Austen.

The decision follows a three-year research programme by the Bank from which it concluded that plastic notes are cleaner, more secure and last at least two and a half times longer than cotton paper.

The switch to the new material has also been backed by the public with 87% of the 13,000 people who gave feedback as part of the consultation saying they were in favour of polymer. 

The new polymer notes will be slightly smaller than their existing paper equivalents, but the current practice of note size increasing with note denomination will be maintained. The Bank said its notes are currently large compared with their international counterparts, making the largest denomination notes harder to fit into cash handling technology and less convenient for everyday use. Smaller notes will also reduce printing and storage costs.

The contract for printing the Bank of England’s notes from April 2015 is currently being tendered. While notes will continue to be printed at the Bank’s printing works in Essex, the Bank expects to enter a contract with Innovia Security to supply the polymer material for the new-style £5 and £10 notes, in which Innovia will set up a polymer production plant in Wigton in Cumbria in 2016.

Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, said: “Ensuring trust and confidence in money is at the heart of what central banks do. Polymer notes are the next step in the evolution of banknote design to meet that objective. The quality of polymer notes is higher, they are more secure from counterfeiting, and they can be produced at lower cost to the taxpayer and the environment.”

The issue of the new notes will be supported by an education programme which will include information about the new security features for authentication of the banknote as well as details of how the current paper £5 and £10 banknotes will be withdrawn from circulation.

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