Following the Bank Charter Act of 1844 the Bank was required to publish each week a summary balance sheet showing its main assets and liabilities, known as the Bank Return. The Bank Return publication has three parts: the consolidated balance sheet of the Bank and the balance sheets of its Issue and Banking Departments.
The 2009 Banking Act removed the legal requirement for the Bank to continue publishing the Bank Return. In 2012, Ian Plenderleith completed a review of the Bank’s provision of Emergency Liquidity Assistance (ELA) to RBS and HBOS in 2008-09. Regarding the future publication of the (non-statutory) Bank Return, the review recommended that the Bank ‘should consider ceasing to do so at an appropriate time, in order to improve its ability to provide covert liquidity assistance in future.’ The Bank’s public response was to agree the recommendation and pledge to undertake further analysis.
On 30 June 2014 the Bank announced that it intends to replace the Bank Return publication with a new Weekly Report. The new Weekly Report provides data on all assets and liabilities generated through the Bank’s monetary policy operations, and will typically continue to disclose over 90% of the Bank’s balance sheet by value. The final Bank Return was be published on 25 September 2014, and the first Weekly Report was published on 2 October 2014. The Report will be published each week on a Thursday for positions as at the previous day.
The information provided in the Weekly Report will be augmented on a quarterly basis, with a lag of five quarters, with data for those assets and liabilities which had not previously been disclosed, completing the balance sheet. This balance sheet report will be prepared under the Bank’s accounting policies (listed in the Bank’s Annual Report).
Further information can be found in the explanatory article, listed in the Key Resources below.
Some further background on the Bank Return is given below:
- The Bank Return appears on Thursdays and shows the position as at the close of business on the previous day.
- The Issue and Banking Departments were created by the Bank Charter Act of 1844. These are not organisational units of the Bank, but serve to divide the note-issuing business of the Bank from its other activities.
- The balance sheet of the Issue Department shows the value of banknotes in issue and of the assets backing them. The entire profit of the Issue Department is paid over to HM Treasury. All other assets and liabilities of the Bank are shown on the balance sheet of the Banking Department.
- The format of the Bank Return has changed from time to time, including with effect from 24 May 2006, when the Bank introduced reserves averaging.