You have a month to spend your old five pound notes

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Jasmine Andersson
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It’s time to dig out all your old five pound notes and treat yourself to some slap-up lunches while you can, because, in just under a month, they won’t even be worth the paper they’re printed on.

That’s right: the classic paper fiver, which ceased printing in September 2016, is set to become a relic of the past.

Come 5 May, the note will lose its legal tender status, and will not be accepted in shops.

So far, the Bank of England have managed to destroy 50% of the old notes, which means that there are still 160 million of them in circulation at the moment.

Some retailers might still accept them, but at their own discretion. High street banks can also refuse to exchange notes after the cut-off date – although the Bank of England will continue to exchange the old notes indefinitely,

“We are encouraging anyone who still has paper £5 notes to spend them over the next month,” they said in a statement on Wednesday.

It is hoped that the new plastic five pound notes – featuring Winston Churchill – will prove to be far more durable and water-resistant than their ancient cousin.

However the big five pound note exchange hasn’t come without controversy.

The removal of political campaigner and Victorian reformer Elizabeth Fry will mean that just one of the four new issued notes will feature a woman. 

When it was revealed that the new fivers contained beef tallow, several omnivores, Hindu Temples and vegetarian restaurants said that they would refuse to accept the note.

In spite of the outcry, the Bank refused to withdraw the note, and said that the new ten pound will also feature traces of the animal product.

“Withdrawing £5 polymer banknotes and stopping production of £10 polymer banknotes would have significant implications for the Bank’s anti-counterfeiting strategy and threaten continuity of supply of banknotes to the public,” a spokesperson said.

“It would carry environmental risks and impose significant financial costs on the Bank, and thereby the taxpayer, and on the cash industry.”

The new £10 polymer note will be issued in September.

After a mighty battle led by Caroline Criado Perez, the note will feature a woman: literary heroine Jane Austen is set to grace our new tenners very soon.

Images: Rex Features and


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Jasmine Andersson

When she isn't talking about her emotional attachment to meal deals or serenading unfortunate individuals with David Bowie power solos in karaoke booths, Jasmine writes about gender, politics and culture as a freelance journalist. She wastes her days tweeting @the__chez