Plans to do away with the £50 note have been scrapped in favour of giving the UK’s largest denomination a facelift.
A proposal to abolish the £50 note was recently on the table because it’s rarely used for everyday purchases – not to mention the fact that it’s often associated with dodgy deals.
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However, a new and improved version of the red banknote is tipped to be harder wearing, secure, and more difficult to forge. With new polymer £5 and £10 notes already in circulation, an upgraded £20 note will also follow suit in 2020.
🚨 Breaking 🚨 Your £50 notes will be going plastic just like the £5, £10 and £20 notes 💷— HM Treasury (@hmtreasury) October 13, 2018
There are 330 million £50 notes in circulation (worth £16.5 billion)
More here 👉 https://t.co/PrG9k5hP8V and what a £50 looks like today 👇 pic.twitter.com/s83RLBtdhG
According to the Treasury, the value of the existing 330 million £50 notes in circulation is £16.5 billion.
Links with the criminal underworld
The Exchequer reviewed the £50 note in March and the findings point to it being the most notorious of Bank of England denominations. According to the BBC, the Treasury linked it with “money laundering, hidden economy activity, and tax evasion.”
This observation was backed up by Peter Sands, former Chief Executive of Standard Chartered bank, who called the £50 note the “currency of corrupt elites, of crime of all sorts, and of tax evasion”.
A more positive note
Reassuring the public that their cash is in safe hands, the Exchequer Secretary to The Treasury, Robert Jenrick, said: “Our money needs to be secure and this new note will help prevent crime.”
What’s money made of?
The material used to make the new banknotes sparked controversy when they were found to contain traces of tallow, which is an animal product that raised some objections from within the vegan, Hindu, and Sikh communities.
However, when the Bank of England explored using palm oil or coconut oil to forge the new £20 notes, conservationists voiced their objections from a sustainability point of view. So it appears the tallow-containing design is here to stay.
The face of the new 50
The £50 note in circulation since 2011 features the famous steam engineers James Watt and Matthew Boulton. Following a campaign to see women other than the Queen represented on our currency, Jane Austen appears on the new £10 note.
Mark Carney, Governor of The Bank of England, said, “Our banknotes serve as repositories of the country’s collective memory, promoting awareness of the UK’s glorious history and highlighting the contributions of its greatest citizens.”
The Bank of England now asks the public who should feature on our banknotes, and in 2015, JMW Turner was chosen to front the new £20 note after 30,000 people cast their votes for a choice of 590 visual artists.
The face of the new £50 note is yet to be unveiled.
Who do you think should be featured on the new £50 note? Let us know in the comments below.