After 300 years of using the paper currency that we all know and love it has been decided that the UK will be making the move to polymer banknotes. These will be a thin, flexible, plastic notes and slightly smaller than the paper versions which we currently use. The look of the notes will barely be changing. They will still feature the Queen and a historical figure; they will also increase in size with face value.
There are a number of reasons that the Bank of England have for making this change. Firstly, the new polymer notes will stay cleaner for longer and be harder to damage. It has been suggested that they can last two and a half times longer than paper banknotes and are more environmentally friendly!
The new notes will have features that make them harder to counterfeit and more secure. Counterfeiting costs the country £30 million per year at present so these new notes have the potential to save a lot of money. They will also reduce money spent on production and storage by a quarter which has been estimated at a saving of £100 million!
A lot of people have expressed concern about the possibility of the new banknotes being damaged by heat but they would have to be exposed to boiling temperatures for this to happen! So as long as you don’t try to iron it everything should be fine!
The first polymer banknote to be introduced in 2016 will be the £5 note featuring Winston Churchill. This will be followed by the £10 note featuring Jane Austen in 2017.
The way in which the historical figures, which appear on our banknotes, are chosen is also changing. This follows the controversy caused when it looked like there would be a lack of influential women pictured on our banknotes. The new system means that the public will be able to nominate worthy candidates for two months, these suggestions will then be shortlisted by a focus group. The final decision on whose face will appear on the note is down to the Governor of the bank.
87% of 13,000 people asked said that they were in favour of polymer notes and with the benefits that they bring it is easy to see why. Especially as they can be produced at a lower cost to the taxpayer!
Other countries already using polymer banknotes are Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Singapore, Canada, and recent additions to the group are Fiji and Mauritius.
By Sasha Davison
20th December 2013
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