Wednesday 15 February 2017 11:10 am

Bank of England: Sorry, vegans. We're keeping the polymer £5 note

The Bank of England is keeping the £5 note – despite concerns from animal activists, it said today.

Veggies were outraged in November after it emerged the plastic fiver, which was launched in September, contained tiny amounts of tallow, a form of animal fat.

After a consultation, the Bank has not only said it's going to keep the new fiver in circulation – but it's going to issue the new polymer £10 note as planned in September. Take that, animal rights activists.

You can see the Bank of England's point: it's spent £46m on printing the £5 note and reprinting will cost the same again – plus another £50,000 to destroy the stock that's already out there.

Meanwhile, it's spent £24m on printing 274m of the new £10 notes, production of which began in August (meaning, incidentally, that your new tenner will be worth 8.8p). 

The Bank said its decision had taken into consideration (deep breath): its responsibility to maintain the supply of banknotes, its obligations under the Equality Act, the concerns raised about the use of animal-derived products, the impact of any changes on firms that process and handle cash, the potential impact on its suppliers, and value for money for the taxpayer. 

But in the end, it decided reprinting the fiver will be too expensive, and putting off the new tenner will delay "the benefits of the increased counterfeit resilience of polymer being achieved for the Bank and the public".

There was one sop to animal rights types: the Bank said it is seeking "further opinions" on replacing the use of tallow before it begins any new runs of the notes. In the summer, it'll publish a full report, with plans for what it will do next.

If you're an ardent veggie, there was some good news: it has enough stocks of £20 and £50 notes to last until the summer – and when it does re-order, "materials containing animal-derived residues will not be included in any recycling processes". In other words – if you want to be a vegan, make sure you are a high-roller…

Read more: Got change? Here's what £1m and £100m notes look like