Bank of England to unveil new £10 polymer note featuring Jane Austen

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Jane Austen bank note

The Bank of England will unveil the new £10 polymer note in Winchester on Tuesday, marking 200 years since the death of author Jane Austen who will grace the new tenner.

It will be the only note in circulation to feature a woman, aside from the Queen, following the replacement of the old £5 note which featured prison reformer Elizabeth Fry, with the polymer version featuring Sir Winston Churchill.

The new £10 note will enter circulation in September.

The transition to polymer has sparked controversy after the Bank confirmed that an "extremely small amount" of tallow - or animal fat - was used to produce polymer pellets, which were part of the production process for creating the new notes.

Activists and religious groups have been pushing for sustainable, plant-based alternatives and have accused the central bank of forcing unethical products on the public.

The Bank said it had held off signing supply contracts for the £20 polymer note, which is due to be released in 2020, in order to better understand "the range of public opinion" surrounding the use of tallow in banknote production and explore potential plant-based substitutes like palm and coconut oil.

However, the Bank said it would keep the £5 in circulation and issue the £10 as planned in September.

Alternative options, like destroying or reprinting the £5 note and delaying the issue of the £10 note were considered, but the Bank said it would be costly and compromise new anti-counterfeit measures.

The Bank has already spent £24 million on printing 275 million new £10 polymer notes since production began in August, on top of the £46 million spent on printing the £5 note.

Reprinting those notes using new materials would mean incurring those costs again, while the destruction of those notes would cost a further £50,000, the Bank said.

A public consultation on the issue closed in May this year, though the results have yet to be released.