The Bank of England has issued a reminder that it will be withdrawing legal tender status of the paper £5 note, featuring Elizabeth Fry, next Friday, May 5 2017. It is encouraging anyone who still has paper £5 notes to spend them during the forthcoming week. At the start of April there were still around 160 million notes left in circulation.

After May 5, retailers and the public no longer have to accept the paper £5 note as payment or in change. The new polymer £5 note featuring Sir Winston Churchill will be the only £5 note with legal tender status. Some banks and building societies may accept paper £5 notes after May 5, but this is at their own discretion. The Bank of England will continue to exchange Fry £5 notes for all time, as for any other Bank of England note which no longer has legal tender status.

In September this year, a new polymer £10 note featuring Jane Austen will be issued. The note will recognise her universal appeal and enduring contribution to English literature. Jane Austen joins Sir Winston Churchill, Adam Smith and Matthew Boulton and James Watt in showcasing British culture on Bank of England notes.

The new polymer £5 note was first issued on September 13, 2016 and is described as being cleaner, safer and stronger than its paper counterpart. The polymer banknotes include a new generation of security features which make them even harder to counterfeit. They are also resistant to dirt and moisture, and so they remain in better condition for longer. The strength of the polymer material means that the New Fiver is expected to last at least 2.5 times longer than the paper note – around five years.