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New £5 polymer note enters circulation in UK

BBR Staff Writer Published 14 September 2016

The Bank of England (BoE) has issued its first polymer note, the new £5 featuring Sir Winston Churchill, as part of its move to shift from paper notes to plastic.

From 13 September, the £5 plastic notes will be available from many cash machines and bank counters across the UK.

The central bank said that it has printed 440 million polymer notes of £5 denomination.

It plans to gradually withdraw paper £5 notes as they are banked by retailers and businesses. However, paper £5 notes are allowed for circulation until 5 May 2017.

The bank plans to introduce a polymer £10 featuring Jane Austen in summer 2017, followed by the J.M.W. Turner £20 note by 2020.

BoE said that polymer, which is resistant to dirt and moisture, allowed it to incorporate a new generation of security features in the note, making it even harder to counterfeit.  

The central bank Governor Mark Carney said: “The New Fiver, made of polymer, will be cleaner, safer and stronger. Resistant to dirt and moisture, it will stay in good condition for longer. The new security features make it harder to counterfeit.

“While the use of polymer means it can better withstand being repeatedly folded into wallets or scrunched up inside pockets and can also survive a spin in the washing machine. We expect polymer notes to last at least two-and-a-half times longer than the current generation of fivers and therefore reduce future costs of production.”

Polymer notes are expected to last for 5 years even after being folded into wallets and scrunched up in pockets.

A decision to replace paper notes currently in use with polymer notes was made by the BoE in 2013 following a public consultation.

Image: Bank of England introduces first polymer note. Photo courtesy of Rob Wiltshire/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.