Page last updated at 19:18 GMT, Sunday, 6 December 2009

The fiver is set for a comeback in UK cash machines

5 note in a till
Smaller denomination notes do not last as long

The Bank of England has said it will urge banks to increase the availability of £5 notes in their cash machines.

It will also ask shops to give out more fivers in change to meet demand from consumers for the note.

While all UK cash machines must have the capacity to hold all denominations of notes, demand and efficiency means most give £10 and £20 notes only.

In the past two years the value of £5 notes in supply has increased from about £1bn to £1.3bn.

However, owing to the regularity of use, a £5 note only lasts in circulation for a year before being too damaged to use. The lifespan of a £50 note is usually five years or more.

Now Andrew Bailey, the Bank's executive director for banking services and chief cashier, is to further the fiver's case.

He told the Banknote Conference in Washington that after two recent trials the Bank now had the evidence to "press the case for raising the dispense" of £5 notes.

The Bank had asked HSBC and supermarket Sainsbury's to issue more £5 notes, and feedback from HSBC showed the case for stocking some cash machines with fivers was stronger than previously envisaged, he said.

HSBC had stocked 100 of its cash machines in the Midlands and south west of England with more fivers than usual.

Meanwhile, Sainsbury's reported that by using more £5 notes it had been able to speed up payment processing at the checkout

"In the New Year I hope and expect that we will take these examples to other financial institutions and major retailers to make the case for a change of policy towards issuing £5s," said Mr Bailey.

Popular question

Speaking to the BBC in February, Mr Bailey said the questions he was asked more than any others were why there were not enough £5 notes in circulation and why they were not good enough quality to last very long.

A lot of London cabbies have to buy a cup of tea or buy a sandwich to get enough fivers in their hands to give out as change
Chris Haines, London taxi driver

"We are very keen to get £5 notes into circulation," said Mr Bailey, whose signature is printed on every Bank of England note.

The move was welcomed by some in service industries, including Chris Haines, a London taxi driver, who said the shortage of fivers had become a real problem.

"A lot of London cabbies have to buy a cup of tea or buy a sandwich to get enough fivers in their hands to give out as change," he said.



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