Hindu Council UK – STATEMENT “Update on the new Bank Notes containing animal-derived products (tallow)”

On Wednesday 8th February 2017, the Hindu Council UK representatives – Chairman: Umesh C Sharma JP, Director of Interfaith Relations: Anil Bhanot OBE and Director of Hindu Temple Engagement: Arun Thakur were personally invited to a meeting with The Chief Cashier of the Bank of England-Victoria Cleland at its headquarters in Threadneedle Street, Central London, to discuss the issue of the new £5 note, which contains small traces of animal derived products (tallow). The Bank of England wished to understand the concerns of the community in more detail and to hear Hindu Council UK’s thoughts, on this issue directly. Whilst the Bank of England was not, at that stage in a position to provide any specific update on whether there were potential alternatives to the use of small traces of animal-derived products in the new £5, (and the impending launch of the new £10 and £20 polymer banknote), they hoped that through the meeting, they could explain some of the issues that they were tackling.

In late November 2016, the Bank of England announced that it had been informed that small traces of animal-derived products were used by a supplier in the manufacture of the new polymer £5 notes. Tallow is a hard, fatty substance made from rendered animal fat. It is commonly used to make soap and candle. The new polymer note uses beef tallow made from suet, which is hard fat found around the animal’s kidneys, stomach and other organs. The new £5 notes (and the £10 notes) contain animal fat in the form of tallow. This is unacceptable to millions of vegans, vegetarians, Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and others in the UK.

As soon as this announcement was made, the Hindu Council UK together with a number of individuals and representatives of certain communities and organisations had publically expressed concerns about this.

Subsequently, over the last couple of months, the Hindu Council UK has been in communication with the Bank of England and raised the concerns of the Hindu Community, Hindu Temples and Hindu Organisations in the UK and the Bank of England assured that they were treating those concerns with the utmost seriousness and wanted to understand better what impact the use of small traces of animal-derived products in polymer banknotes may have within the community before making any further statement on the issue.

The Hindu Council UK Representatives had a full and frank discussion with Victoria Cleland and highlighted that many Hindus were concerned due to the animal-derived products in the new notes, because one of the key virtues in the Hindu faith is Ahimsa- which is the practice of non violence; avoiding harming any living thing, and also avoid the desire to harm any living thing, including protecting animals, which symbolise many of our most important deities.

The Hindu Council UK representatives informed the Bank of England that it had received many calls from various Temples across the UK who had banned the use of the new £5 note as donations and offering to deities within the sanctuary of the temple environment. Hindus respect, honour and have a special affection for the cow as it represents life and the sustenance of life, the symbol of the earth, the ever giving, undemanding provider for mankind. To Hindus, the Cow is a symbol of grace and abundance and veneration of the cow instils the virtues of gentleness, receptivity and connection with nature. As a consequence of not allowing the £5 notes in the Temple environment, many of the temples had seen a huge decrease in their Temple economy, which relies totally on donations in order to operate.

Following the meeting between Hindu Council UK and the Bank of England, the following two Statements have been issued by Victoria Cleland.

The Hindu Council UK is pleased that the Bank of England have listened to our concerns and halted the issuing of the new £20 notes until a full consultation has been done. In addition, the Bank of England has assured us that they are working with polymer suppliers to investigate alternatives (including some that are plant-based) for the future:

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From: “Cleland, Victoria”
Date: 10 February 2017 at 09:58:02 GMT
To: “Hindu Council UK
Subject: Bank of England meeting

Dear Umesh

It was a pleasure to meet you, Anil and Arun on 8 February. I really appreciated you coming into the Bank of England to explain Hindu beliefs and particularly how they relate to the issue of traces of animal-derived products that we have discovered in the manufacture of our polymer notes.

I hope that the paragraphs below will give you something to share with your community.

We are treating the concerns of the Hindu community very seriously. I very much appreciate representatives of the Hindu Council UK coming to the Bank to explain how this issue is affecting members of the community, specifically the concerns relating to the presence of these notes within temples and the effect it has had on donations at some temples.

We were not, at the time we signed the contracts and issued the £5 notes, aware that they contained any animal-derived products. And while they are only trace amounts, I understand the difficultly that this causes your community and others.

We have, therefore, embarked on a programme of work with our suppliers to consider what alternatives are available and how these impact our note issuance objectives.

I was pleased to have such a constructive discussion with you and I would be grateful if you could reassure the Hindu community that we are working with polymer suppliers to investigate alternatives (including some that are plant-based) for the future. I will keep you updated on our work.

Best wishes

Victoria Cleland
Chief Cashier
Director of Notes
Bank of England | Threadneedle Street | London EC2R 8AH

From: “Cleland, Victoria”
Date: 15 February 2017 at 10:56:39 GMT
To: “Hindu Council UK”
Subject: Bank of England banknotes update

Dear Umesh,

It was a pleasure to meet you recently.

In our meeting I explained that the Bank was working to find possible solutions to the issue and said that I would update you at the next opportunity. I therefore wanted to let you know that the Bank has just issued a public statement relation to its banknotes.

The full statement can be found on the Bank’s website here:

As you will see that it explains the careful consideration we have given to this issue and the challenges it has presented with regards to our banknote issuance programme. We have concluded that we will:

· not withdraw the current £5 polymer banknotes from circulation and will proceed with plans to withdraw legal tender status of the £5 paper banknotes on 5 May 2017;

· continue with the proposed launch of the new £10 polymer banknotes in September 2017, using the existing polymer substrate;

· complete its work with suppliers and internal analysis to determine the feasibility of using alternative substrates to produce polymer notes; and

· launch a full public consultation on the contents of the polymer substrate to be used in any future reprints of both the £5 and £10 polymer banknotes and the proposed new £20 polymer banknotes.

I hope that you will contribute to the consultation. Please let me know if you have further questions.

Best wishes
Victoria Cleland
Chief Cashier
Director of Notes
Bank of England | Threadneedle Street | London EC2R 8AH


Sanjay Jagatia
Director/Secretary General
Hindu Council UK