LONDON (AP) — The Bank of England says it will start issuing plastic bank notes for the first time in its 300-year history.

The decision comes after a three-year research program found that plastic notes stay cleaner for longer, are more difficult to counterfeit and last more than twice as long as than cotton paper.

The central bank said Wednesday that cash made from polymer, rather than cotton paper, will debut when a new 5 pound ($8) note featuring wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill rolls out in 2016.

Bank governor Mark Carney said the polymer notes are "the next step" in ensuring trust and confidence in money.

A 10-pound note featuring Jane Austen — due to be introduced about a year later — also will be made from polymer.

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