Bank of England to introduce plastic bank notes in 2016

Plastic banknote

The Bank of England is to introduce plastic bank notes in 2016, with the first being a £5 featuring Sir Winston Churchill.

In early October, the BoE launched a consultation on whether to introduce the polymer notes, claiming they are more durable, cleaner, and more secure than the current notes we use that are printed on cotton paper.

Almost 13,000 people took part in the public consultation, with 87% saying they were in favour of polymer, 7% claiming they were neutral and just 6% opposed to the idea.

With that in mind, the BoE has decided to push ahead with its plan, with the Churchill polymer note due to be in circulation from 2016 and a new £10 polymer note, featuring Jane Austen, being introduced a year later.

Polymer banknotes are resistant to dirt and moisture so stay cleaner for longer than paper banknotes, and they are also more secure, with "advanced security features" making them difficult to counterfeit. The notes are also more durable, lasting at least 2.5 times longer than paper banknotes.

The BoE also made claims for the environmentally friendly qualities of polymer notes.

But the new notes will be slightly smaller than the current paper notes we use today, although they will still increase in size according to note denomination. The Bank of England said the current notes we use are large compared with their international counterparts.

Evolution of the banknote

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 BoE also announced a new set of criteria for choosing which figures appear on bank notes. The new process for character selection will draw "more heavily on input from the public and on independent experts, and ensures that decision-makers consider the equality implications of choices."

This follows a successful vocal campaign from members of the public for Jane Austen to feature on the new £10 note.

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