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Britain’s biggest cash revolution in decades

The Bank of England is poised to release its plastic £5 note on Tuesday. How can you pick one up, and are the shops ready? Plus, there’s a new £1 coin

At midnight on Monday the first cash machines in England and Wales will be loaded with our new “polymer” plastic bank notes in the biggest cash revolution since decimalisation in 1971.

The Bank of England has ordered the printing of 440m of the shiny (some say slippery) £5 notes. Armoured vehicles have collected much of the £2bn-plus worth of new money from the Bank’s cash centres in Debden, Essex, and Leeds, and ferried them to more than 30 high-security vaults across the country to begin distribution to the high street banks – and on Tuesday morning the public will have the first chance to handle and use them in person.

With the Queen on one side, Winston Churchill is the other face of the new fiver, which will be made out of a thin and flexible plastic material – including a see-through window – and will be 15% smaller than the current cotton-paper £5.

So what will happen to existing £5 notes in England and Wales? Will they remain legal tender? Should you keep one as an investment? Will they still work in a Tesco Express self-checkout? Or to buy a ticket at a train station? Why do we have to wait so long for plastic tenners and twenties? And why are we actually going through all this?

Read the full article on The Guardian website.