New £5 bank notes to be made from plastic

Plastic bank notes are to be issued by the Bank of England for the first time when the new £5 featuring Sir Winston Churchill appears in 2016.

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Polymer banknotes 'will only melt in extreme heat'

Bank of England governor Mark Carney has brushed off fears that polymer banknotes would be damaged by heat, after it was announced it would be introduced in 2016.

Mr Carney said: "They don't melt in the heat, unless it's extreme heat. You have to get above boiling for it to actually happen".

Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney speaks at a news conference over polymer banknotes. Credit: Dylan Martinez/PA Wire


Bank of England: 87% in favour of plastic banknotes

More than 80% of people across the UK who gave feedback to the Bank of England regarding plans to introduce plastic banknotes responded in favour to the move, according to its latest figures.

Out of nearly 13,000 individuals, 87% were in favour of polymer, while only 6% were opposed.

Polymer banknote public consultation programme in Cardiff. Credit: Flickr/Bank of England
Polymer banknote public consultation programme in Plymouth. Credit: Flickr/Bank of England

Your views: Plastic or cotton paper banknotes?

The Bank of England has announced plans to press ahead with switching to plastic banknotes in 2016. ITV News asked viewers whether they thought it was a good idea to move to polymer notes.

If changing one note to plastic then you will have to change the rest also its going to cost more money to change the cash machines.

– Martyn Spence

Used to live in OZ and love the plastic notes , cause no worries and last longer, easy to count.

– Carl Woodhouse

Another British tradition altered.

– Camilla Barrett Broadey

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Polymer banknotes 'more environmentally friendly'

The Bank of England has said it had spent three yeas researching materials on which banknotes are printed, concluding that there were "compelling reasons" to move to printing banknotes on polymer, a thin flexible plastic film. According to their research:

  • Polymer banknotes are resistant to dirt and moisture so stay cleaner for longer than paper banknotes.
  • Polymer banknotes are secure. They incorporate advanced security features making them difficult to counterfeit.
  • Polymer banknotes are more durable. They last at least 2.5 times longer than paper banknotes so will take much longer to become “tatty”.
  • Polymer banknotes are more environmentally friendly .

Carney: Plastic design next step in banknote evolution

Plastic notes are the next step in the evolution of banknote design, the Governor of the Bank of England said after announcing that the next £5 and £10 banknotes will be printed on polymer, rather than on the cotton paper used for notes currently in issue. Mark Carney said:

Ensuring trust and confidence in money is at the heart of what central banks do.

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.


Your view: Britain could switch to plastic banknotes

As the Bank of England is set to announce plans to press ahead with switching to plastic banknotes in 2016, ITV News asked viewers whether they thought it was a good idea to move to polymer notes.

Not really bothered. I carry very little cash. Always pay with my debit card!

– Darran Pryce

It's to cut down on paper and they last longer. They have prototypes but not doing very well as they don't fit in wallets and purses. I think it will be better as we won't rip them or lose them in the wash.

– Lorraine Skerritt

Northern Ireland had them for years. A lot better as they don't rip and are harder to copy. Yes they do fold are very similar to paper notes.

– William James Barker

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'Positive feedback' from visually impaired for banknotes

Victoria Cleland, the Head of the Notes division for the Bank of England has said that those who are blind or visually impaired will be able to handle plastic banknotes, due to be introduced in 2016.

After working with a test group, Ms Cleland said: "The feedback was positive, about half of them actually preferred polymer and everyone else thought they could get used to polymer".

Plastic banknotes: What you need to know

  • The notes are wipe-clean and can survive a hot wash
  • The notes are virtually impossible to rip
  • Polymer notes are able to fold
  • Governor Mark Carney led Bank of Canada when the notes were introduced there
  • Polymer notes are used in more than 20 countries
  • The first country to switch to polymer was Australia in 1996
  • A move to polymer notes would end 320 years of paper note tradition in Britain
  • Five-pound notes currently last for around two years
  • Polymer fivers would last for about six years
  • Old polymer notes can be recycled
  • The Bank expects to save more than £100 million over a decade from the longer-lasting notes
  • Polymer notes would be 5 millimetres smaller in both length and width than current notes
  • The new notes are said to be more difficult to forge
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