This report contains information on the Bank of England’s Asset Purchase Facility (APF) for 2023 Q1, describing operations from 1 January 2023 to 31 March 2023. This report also contains information about how cash flows between the APF and HM Treasury (HMT) might evolve over time. More information on what the APF is and what it does is available in our Market Operations Guide. A short timeline describing the history of the APF is provided as background at the end of the report.
APF operations in the past quarter
This section contains details of UK government bond (gilt) and corporate bond operations conducted for monetary policy purposes during 2023 Q1. It also includes details of gilt operations run under the Bank’s financial stability mandate, and information on gilts lent to the Debt Management Office (DMO).
Operations conducted for monetary policy purposes
At its 21 September 2022 meeting, the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) voted to begin sales of the APF’s stock of gilts held to support the MPC’s monetary policy remit. Sales auctions began on 1 November 2022.
Over 2023 Q1, the Bank continued with the sale of the APF’s stock of gilts held for monetary policy purposes. A total of 15 gilt sales operations were run between 1 January and 31 March. Gilts were sold equally across the short, medium and long-dated maturity sectors, defined as gilts with a residual maturity of between 3–7 years (short), 7–20 years (medium) or over 20 years (long). This led to a reduction in the stock of gilts held for monetary policy purposes of £13.7 billion.
Over 2023 Q1, the Bank also continued with its sale of sterling non-financial investment-grade corporate bonds which began on 27 September 2022. Twenty-seven operations, including both auctions and buybacks, were run over 2023 Q1, and the stock of corporate bond holdings was reduced by a total of £5.8 billion.
Temporary holdings of gilts purchased on financial stability grounds
On 28 September 2022, the Bank announced that it would carry out temporary purchases of long-dated conventional gilts, in order to restore market functioning to meet its financial stability objective. These temporary operations were subsequently expanded to include index-linked gilts, and were concluded as planned on 14 October 2022. In total, the Bank’s temporary holdings of gilts purchased in these operations peaked at £19.3 billion.
On 10 November 2022, the Bank announced that it intended to unwind this portfolio in a way that was timely but orderly, beginning from 29 November 2022. Consistent with this, sales were carried out not at a fixed pace, but instead in a demand-led way that was responsive to prevailing market conditions. This approach allowed the Bank to meet demand for gilts where it existed, while limiting the impact of such sales on wider market conditions.
On 12 January 2023, the Bank announced that it had completed sales. In total the Bank raised £23.1 billion from the sale of the portfolio of temporary gilt purchases.
Summary of holdings
As of 29 March 2023 the total stock of assets held in the APF for monetary policy purposes was £824 billion, comprising £817 billion of gilt purchases and £7 billion of sterling non-financial investment-grade corporate bond purchases.
Table A summarises the stock of APF gilts and corporate bonds in 2023 Q1. Table A also includes a summary of the stock of temporary holdings of gilts purchases under the Bank’s financial stability mandate.
Table A: Summary of stocks in Asset Purchase Facility Schemes (a) (£ millions)
Corporate bond purchase scheme (c)
Temporary holdings of gilts purchased on financial stability grounds (d)
2022 Q4 (e)
4 January 2023
11 January 2023
18 January 2023
25 January 2023
1 February 2023
8 February 2023
15 February 2023
22 February 2023
1 March 2023
8 March 2023
15 March 2023
22 March 2023
29 March 2023
- Source: Bank of England.
- (a) The outstanding amount in each facility is reported on a settlement date basis.
- (b) The overall stock of APF gilt purchases for monetary policy purposes, net of sales and redemptions, valued at initial purchase price.
- (c) The overall stock of APF Corporate Bond Purchase Scheme purchases for monetary policy purposes, net of sales and redemptions, valued at initial purchase price.
- (d) The overall stock of APF gilts purchased on financial stability grounds, net of sales, valued at initial purchase price. This stock comprises both long-dated conventional and index-linked gilts.
- (e) 2022 Q4 measured as the amount outstanding as of 28 December 2022.
Chart 1 shows the cumulative net value of APF transactions between the establishment of the APF and 31 March 2023.
Chart 1 is separated into two panels with different scales. Gilt purchases and the Term Funding Scheme (TFS) – which from 2016 to 2019 was on the APF balance sheet before its transfer to the Bank’s balance sheet – are on the left panel.footnote  The corporate bond schemes and legacy commercial paper schemes that have been operated via the APF balance sheet are shown on the right panel.
Chart 2 shows temporary holdings of long-dated gilts purchased during September–October 2022 under the Bank’s financial stability mandate, including both long-dated conventional and index-linked gilts. It shows both purchases and thereafter sales of these assets.
As of 12 January 2023, the Bank had sold the full portfolio of gilts purchased for financial stability purposes.
Chart 2: Stock of temporary gilts purchased on financial stability grounds
Gilt lending arrangement with the DMO
Gilts purchased for monetary policy purposes via the APF continue to be made available for on-lending to the market through a gilt lending arrangement with the DMO. The average daily aggregate value of gilts lent by the APF to the DMO during the three months to 31 March 2023 was £3.1 billion.
Cash-flow arrangements between the APF and HM Treasury
In line with the indemnification of the APF by HMT, the assets held in the APF generate a range of cash flows which – alongside interest costs and the gains or losses made at maturity or sale – drive consequent cash transfers between HMT and the APF.
Between 2009 and 2022, the APF’s activities generated positive net cash flows from the APF to HMT, peaking at a cumulative £123.8 billion at end-September 2022.
When this arrangement was put in place it was recognised that reverse payments from HMT to the APF were likely to be needed in the future as Bank Rate increased and as the APF's gilt holdings were eventually unwound by the MPC.footnote 
The first such quarterly transfer from HMT to the APF occurred in October 2022 and the second took place in January 2023.
A Quarterly Bulletin article in May 2022 explained the mechanics of cash flows and provided a projection into the future based on prevailing market conditions and the MPC’s policy at the time.
Changes in Bank Rate are particularly important for the path of APF cash flows. First, Bank Rate affects the interest payment the APF must make on its loan from the Bank – a rising Bank Rate means there is a smaller (or, indeed, negative) surplus of income once interest on the Bank of England loan is paid. Second, Bank Rate affects the level of the yield curve which will have an impact on the price received when gilts are sold from the APF to the private sector.footnote 
Chart 3 below updates the previously published summary of actual cash flows to date and provides a refreshed estimate into the future. The projection remains based on prevailing market conditions and the MPC’s current policy stance in relation to APF unwind.footnote 
Future annual net cash flows – shown by the bars – are projected using the market path for Bank Rate as of 31 March 2023.
In order to show how sharply the cumulative profile for cash flows could differ under a range of conditions, the cumulative projections show outcomes based on various assumptions for the path of Bank Rate. These include the market path for Bank Rate as of 31 March 2023, and – in line with the approach used in previous APF Quarterly Reports – estimated paths for rates 100 basis points above and 100 basis points below that.
In addition to this, given the context of recent rises in Bank Rate, the chart also now includes an estimate for an illustrative scenario in which Bank Rate falls gradually over the coming three years back to a level equal to an estimate of the equilibrium interest rate, as described in Box 6 of the August 2018 Inflation Report, and then remains at that level for the remaining life of the APF.
Looking ahead, future cash flows are uncertain and highly sensitive to the assumptions used for market interest rates and how quickly the portfolio is unwound.
Chart 3: APF cash flows (actual and projected) (a)
APF history and background
Below is a summary of some of the key milestones in the history of the APF since its establishment in 2009. The APF sits in a wholly-owned Bank of England subsidiary company – The Bank of England Asset Purchase Facility Fund Limited (BEAPFF).
- 19 January 2009 Chancellor’s Statement announcing the intention to set up an asset purchase programme.
- 29 January 2009 Establishment of the APF Fund (see exchange of letters between the Bank and HMT).
- 9 November 2012 HMT announces the transfer of gilt coupon payments to the Exchequer (see exchange of letters between the Bank and HMT).
- 4 August 2016 MPC agrees to expand the APF by launching a Term Funding Scheme (TFS) and a Corporate Bond Purchase Scheme (CBPS) (see exchange of letters between the Bank and HMT).
- 21 June 2018 Bank and HMT agree new capital and income framework codified by a new Memorandum of Understanding.
- 21 January 2019 TFS drawings (and collateral) transferred from the APF to the Bank of England’s balance sheet.
- 19 March 2020 MPC agrees to expand the APF with a £200 billion increase to the stock of UK gilts and sterling non-financial investment-grade corporate bonds to reach £645 billion. This was followed by the MPC deciding to expand the APF with a £100 billion increase in June 2020, and then a further £150 billion in November 2020, bringing the total stock of asset purchases to £895 billion.
- 3 February 2022 MPC votes to begin to reduce the stock of UK gilt purchases by ceasing to reinvest maturing assets, and the stock of sterling non-financial investment-grade corporate bond purchases by ceasing to reinvest maturing assets and by a programme of corporate bond sales.
- 21 September 2022 MPC votes to begin sales of the stock of gilts held in the APF. Gilt sales subsequently began on 1 November 2022.
Links to additional information related to the APF
- Exchange of letters between the Bank and HMT , 17 February and 3 March 2009.
- Asset Purchase Facility Annual Report 2021/22.
- Asset Purchase Facility Quarterly Report – 2022 Q3.
- Asset Purchase Facility Quarterly Report – 2022 Q4.
Next publication date: 25 July 2023
The Bank launched the Term Funding Scheme with additional incentives for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (TFSME) during April 2020. The TFSME does not appear in this report because it is operated from the Bank’s balance sheet, rather than the APF.
The details were set out in an exchange of letters in November 2012 between the Governor and the Chancellor. This was also explained in a May 2022 Quarterly Bulletin article and reconfirmed in an exchange of letters between the Governor and the Chancellor in September 2022.
Further information regarding how changes in Bank Rate impact the cash flows of the APF can be found in the Bank’s May 2022 Quarterly Bulletin article: ‘QE at the Bank of England: a perspective on its functioning and effectiveness’.
Reflecting the MPC’s current policy, the stock of gilts is assumed to reduce by a total of £80 billion in the year to September 2023, including £45 billion from sales. For the following years the MPC has stated it will set an amount for the reduction in the stock of purchased gilts over the subsequent 12-month period as part of an annual review. For illustrative purposes only, the projection in Chart 3 assumes sales of gilts continue at the current rate in future years until the combination of sales and maturities means the portfolio is fully unwound. In addition, the portfolio of corporate bonds in the APF is assumed to unwind based on the current realised run rate of sales and in line with the MPC’s current policy.