Agents

The Bank of England has a national network of twelve agencies, spread across the whole of the UK. They act as the ‘eyes and ears’ of the Bank, and play a crucial role in linking local businesses and economies with our policymakers in London.
The agents are the key to making sure that the Bank has a well-rounded view of economic conditions and prospects from across the country. They help the business world and our economists to understand each other.

 

How do the agents work?

Each agency has up to four agents and a small administrative team.

The agents have one-to-one confidential conversations about business conditions with businesses, the third sector and other organisations in their local areas. They also run events where attendees can share views and experiences.

Every agency has a network of several hundred regular contacts. They come from organisations that span all sectors of the economy, ranging in size from the small businesses to the largest global companies.

Our agents are in a unique position to be able to gather the most up-to-date intelligence on the ground and to offer insights into puzzles in official data, such as the performance of productivity. They help the Bank to understand how the world is changing and how firms’ behaviour is evolving.

How does the Bank use information from the agents?

The agents feed the economic and financial intelligence they gather back to the Bank. This helps inform decisions made by the Monetary Policy Committee, the Financial Policy Committee and the Prudential Regulation Authority

The agents also organise a programme of visits across the UK for the Bank’s policymakers, so that they can hear the views of businesses first-hand.

Latest from the agents

We publish the agents’ most recent findings eight times a year in the Agents’ Summary of Business Conditions. Each summary reflects the agents’ discussions with around 1,000 businesses across the UK, covering all sectors of the economy. The reports do not represent the Bank of England’s view or those of any particular region or firm – they reflect UK-wide feedback from firms.

The agents also produce quantitative assessments of economic conditions in their region. These are known as Agents’ Scores, and we publish them at the same time as the Agents’ Summary. The scores indicate how different aspects of the economy are behaving on a scale of -5 to +5.  The summary UK scores are calculated by adding up all the scores for individual firms. These scores reflect assessments made by the agents following each visit to a company, based on current and forward-looking responses to eleven questions.

For more information see definitions of the agents' national scores.  An overview of the scores can be found in the Quarterly Bulletin article ‘The Agencies and One Bank’.

PDFDefinitions of the scores

This page was last updated 06 December 2017
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