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BoE responds to fat-free uproar


Britain’s non-fat-free £5 issued on Sept. 13. (Image courtesy & © Bank of England)

In mid-February the Bank of England issued a statement updating its position on, “the discovery of traces of animal-derived products in £5 polymer banknotes.”

It reiterates that it was unaware of the presence of these products in the polymer film used for the £5 notes. It insists that it is treating concerns raised by the public with the utmost seriousness.

That said, and after due consideration, the BoE has concluded that it is “appropriate” to keep the £5 polymer notes in circulation and to continue with release of the new polymer Jane Austen £10 in September as planned. In making these decisions it stresses the Bank’s primary concern is, “its responsibility to issue and maintain the supply of high quality and secure banknotes.”

It points out that production of the new £10 polymer note began last August and already 275 million notes have been printed at a cost of £24 million while £46 million has been spent on printing the £5 note. Reprinting these notes on a new substrate would incur these same costs plus the £50,000 it would cost to destroy existing stock.

Nonetheless the bank is continuing to work closely with its suppliers to determine what fat-free polymer alternatives are available. If a satisfactory one can be sourced no doubt it will be used for future production runs of £5 and £10 polymer notes as well as the new £20 polymer issue due to be released in 2020.

The bank has delayed the signing the relevant contracts for supply of materials for the £20 polymer until it has decided the best way forward. A full consultation is to be launched on March 30 with views invited from the public.

The bank has sufficient stocks of £20 and £50 notes such that it does not need to order any new bank note substrate until July 2017.

This article was originally printed in Bank Note Reporter. >> Subscribe today.

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