Plastic fantastic: The next £20 note will be printed on polymer

James Nickerson
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Victoria Cleland said the decision to change material wasn’t taken lightly (Source: Getty)

The UK's most common bank note will be printed on polymer, the Bank of England has announced.

In a statement today, the Bank said the next £20 note will be printed on a “more secure, durable and cleaner material”. That decision followed “extensive research into developments in security features for notes printed on cotton-based paper and polymer”. The excitement never stops at the Bank of England....

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This comes after the Bank announced the next £5 and £10 banknotes will also be printed on polymer, following a 10 week public consultation that found 87 per cent of respondents in favour of the change.

Victoria Cleland, the Bank's chief cashier, said in a speech in Bristol:

So, why polymer? Primarily, because polymer - incorporating complex windows and sophisticated security features - delivers a leap forward in counterfeit resilience. Experience from central banks that have issued polymer banknotes has been positive.

Canada, for example, has seen a real reduction in counterfeit levels since launching its polymer series a few years ago. Polymer is also cleaner and more durable, leading to better quality notes in circulation.

The polymer £5 note featuring Winston Churchill will be issued in autumn 2016, while the £10 note, which will feature Jane Austen will enter circulation a year later.

The £20 note will enter circulation in three to five years’ time, featuring a visual artist nominated during the public nominations period.

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Polymer notes are also more environmentally friendly than paper and, as they last longer, are cheaper than paper banknotes over time.

There are currently 1.9bn £20 notes in circulation, up from 1bn a decade ago, while there are just 320m £5 notes in circulation and 737m £10 notes.

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