The Bank of England is conducting a national roadshow to consult the public and interested organisations on whether it should introduce plastic or ‘polymer‘ banknotes. If the plan goes ahead, they would introduce the plastic notes from 2016, starting with the Churchill £5 note and then the Jane Austen £10.
The Bank says that plastic notes stay cleaner for longer, incorporate security features making them hard to counterfeit, and are durable, lasting up to 2.5 times longer than the current cotton paper notes. As such, over time, they are cheaper for the Bank to produce.
The Bank has conducted a three year research project into the issue. This included looking into the use of plastic banknotes in 20 other countries, including Canada, Australia, Mexico, Singapore, and Fiji.
If introduced, fundraisers will have to get used to the new format when accepting cash donations. The Bank reports that the new notes will be “thin and flexible” and will be a little smaller than current notes. They will however retain the existing tiered sizing format, in which higher denominations are are produced on larger notes.
The Bank has alread consulted the Royal National Institute of Blind People on the size changes and the charity has indicated its support.
The current banknote design would be retained, featuring Her Majesty the Queen and, on the reverse, people “people who have made a universally-recognised and lasting contribution in their particular field of work”.
The Bank’s consultation will run until 15 November, and it will announce its decision in December 2013.
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