By Esmée Hardwick-Slack
Since the last batch of £50 notes was printed in 2011, there have been concerns over the notes future and debates on whether or not it should be scrapped. The concerns raised were due to the note being primarily used by criminals for money laundering, hidden economy activity and tax evasion, and rarely for ordinary purchases. The Bank of England has recently stated that the £50 note will not be scrapped, but instead will receive a plastic redesign, much like the £5 and £10 notes already in circulation and the new £20 notes coming in 2020.
First introduced in 1981, there are currently 330 million £50 notes in circulation, with a combined value of £16.5 billion. The new plastic notes will be durable, secure and much harder to forge.
The exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, Robert Jenrick, has said: “Our coins and notes are respected and recognised the world over and are a key part of the UK’s heritage and identity. People should have as much choice as possible when it comes to their money, and we’re making sure that cash is here to stay.
“Our money needs to be secure and the new note will help prevent crime.”
Questions have also been raised over who will feature on the new note. Steam engine pioneers James Watt and Matthew Boulton are on the current £50 notes. The Bank of England now has a committee that will ask for public nominations in a chosen field. Jane Austin was selected to appear on the plastic £10 note after a campaign to represent women other than the queen on English notes. In 2015, 30,000 people nominated 590 famous visual artists for the new £20 notes, before JMW Turner was selected.
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