Public welcome Jane Austen £10 note as it starts to appear on the high street

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The new £10 note featuring Jane Austen has been welcomed as it starts to appear in people's pockets up and down the country.

It is the first Bank of England banknote with a tactile feature to help blind and partially-sighted users.

The new banknote will gradually start appearing in general circulation over the coming days and weeks as it leaves cash centres around the country. Just over one billion of the notes have been printed.

Like the £5 note already in circulation featuring Sir Winston Churchill, the new £10 banknote featuring Pride And Prejudice author Austen is made from polymer.

The new banknotes are expected to last at least two-and-a-half times longer than the current paper £10 notes, around five years in total, and stay in better condition during day-to-day use.

Some ATMs have started dispensing the new tenner and scores of people queued near the Bank of England in London on Thursday to get their hands on the new banknote.

Meanwhile in Birmingham, one woman told the Press Association: "If I can't rip it, great, because I'm a student and I can't afford to lose £10."

Another woman said of the new banknote: "It's quite pretty - nice colours, I'd be happy to have that in my purse."

The new tactile feature is a series of raised dots in the top left-hand corner of the banknote, developed with the help of the RNIB.

Wendy Rankin, director of mobility services at the charity Guide Dogs, said: "We think it's great that the Bank of England has included a tactile feature on the new polymer £10 note, so people with sight loss can carry on using cash with confidence."

She said that guide dog owners who attended the new note's unveiling earlier in 2017 found that the tactile feature makes it easy for them to continue managing their own money.

Jane Austen bank note
People queue outside the Bank of England in London, to exchange money for the new £10 note featuring Jane Austen (PA).

According to calculations from Fidelity International, with the eroding effects of inflation, £10 left in a piggy bank since the start of the 2000s would have had nearly a third of its value wiped away. In today's money, it would be worth only £7.08.

People can continue to spend the existing paper £10 notes for now. They will be phased out gradually as they are banked.

Legal tender status of the paper £10 featuring Charles Darwin will eventually be withdrawn in spring 2018.

The exact date will be announced at least three months in advance.

A new £20 note featuring artist JMW Turner will follow in 2020.

Jane Austen bank note
A woman holds a new £10 note, featuring Jane Austen, in Birmingham High Street (PA).

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 notes.

In August, following a public consultation, the Bank said that after "careful and serious consideration", there would be no change to the composition of polymer used for future banknotes.
It said the only viable alternative was palm oil, but this raised questions about environmental sustainability and value for money.

Jane Austen bank note
A man withdraws the new £10 note, featuring Jane Austen, from a cash machine on Birmingham High Street (PA)

Bank of England governor Mark Carney said: "The new £10 will be printed on polymer, making it safer, stronger and cleaner.

"The note will also include a new tactile feature on the £10 to help the visually impaired, ensuring the nation's money is as inclusive as possible."

This year marks 200 years since Austen's death.

Born on December 16 1775, in Steventon, Hampshire, Austen started to write short, comic stories in childhood, and her first works were published anonymously.

While her work gave her little personal fame during her lifetime, Austen's novels started appearing on university reading lists around the start of the 20th century, with many films later exploring the themes of her writing.

Austen died on July 18 1817.

Victoria Cleland, the Bank's chief cashier, said: "It is wonderful to see the inspirational author Jane Austen celebrated on the new £10, and even more poignant being launched during the 200th anniversary of her death.

"I am grateful to the cash industry for their support in bringing the cleaner, safer, stronger notes to the public."