This report contains information on the Bank of England’s Asset Purchase Facility (APF) for 2023 Q3, describing operations from 1 July 2023 to 30 September 2023. It 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 Q3. It also includes information on gilts lent to the Debt Management Office (DMO).
At its 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 Q3, the Bank continued with the sale of the APF’s stock of gilts held for monetary policy purposes. A total of nine gilt sales operations were run between 1 July and 30 September. Gilts were sold evenly 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). These sales, in addition to maturities of gilts held by the APF, led to a reduction in the stock of gilts held for monetary policy purposes of £46.0 billion.
After completing planned sales of sterling non-financial investment-grade corporate bonds in 2023 Q2, the APF continues to hold very short maturity corporate bonds in its portfolio, which will mature fully by 5 April 2024. The Bank intends to hold these bonds to maturity, though it will continue to consider participation in any open market tender offers on a case-by-case basis.
At its September 2023 meeting, the MPC voted to reduce the stock of gilts held in the APF by £100 billion over the 12-month period from October 2023 to September 2024, comprising both maturing gilts and sales.
Summary of holdings
As of 27 September 2023, the total stock of assets held in the APF for monetary policy purposes was £757.9 billion, comprising £757.3 billion of gilt purchases and £642 million of sterling non-financial investment-grade corporate bond purchases.
Table A summarises the stock of APF gilts and corporate bonds in 2023 Q3.
Table A: Summary of stocks in Asset Purchase Facility Schemes (a) (£ millions)
Corporate bond purchase scheme (c)
2023 Q2 (d)
5 July 2023
12 July 2023
19 July 2023
26 July 2023
2 August 2023
9 August 2023
16 August 2023
23 August 2023
30 August 2023
6 September 2023
13 September 2023
20 September 2023
27 September 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) 2023 Q2 measured as the amount outstanding as of 28 June 2023.
Chart 1 shows the cumulative net value of APF transactions between the establishment of the APF and 30 September 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.
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 30 September 2023 was £2.23 billion. Chart 2 sets out the average daily value of APF gilts lent to the DMO via the gilt lending agreement over the past two years.
Chart 2: Average daily aggregate value of lending of APF gilts to the DMO
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.
In 2012, it was agreed to transfer the APF’s net income to HMT on a regular basis. 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 payments have been made on a quarterly basis thereafter.
A Quarterly Bulletin article in May 2022 explained the mechanics of cash flows and provided an illustrative projection into the future based on prevailing market conditions and the MPC’s policy at the time.
Future APF cash flows are highly uncertain and are sensitive to a number of factors, including changes in Bank Rate. 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 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 updated illustrative projections into the future. Reflecting the considerable uncertainty around future cash flows, the projections are based on a set of scenarios for the MPC’s approach to unwind, reflecting the MPC’s annual review process, and the path for Bank Rate. These illustrative projections are highly sensitive to the assumptions used.
Since the current value of cash flows further into the future is generally lower than the value of cash flows in the nearer term, the net present value (NPV) for past and future projected cash flows are calculated for each of the scenarios to facilitate a comparison between them. Depending on the assumed path for Bank Rate, the illustrative cumulative lifetime NPVs of cash flows in the scenarios considered fall in the range between -£50 billion and -£130 billion.
In all scenarios, the stock of gilts is assumed to reduce by a total of £100 billion in the year to September 2024, through a combination of maturities and sales, in line with the MPC’s preferred approach to unwind over this period. In the first scenario (‘Scenario 1A’), APF unwind is assumed to continue at this pace in future years until the portfolio is fully unwound. In the second scenario (‘Scenario 2A’), the annual pace of unwind is assumed to return to a total of £80 billion after September 2024, in line with the MPC’s approach in the year to September 2023.footnote  For both Scenarios 1A and 2A, it is assumed that Bank Rate follows the market path, as of 29 September 2023.
In line with the approach of previous Quarterly Reports, Chart 3 also includes scenarios in which Bank Rate falls gradually over the coming three years back to a level equal to an estimate of the equilibrium interest rate, produced by staff in 2018 and as described in Box 6 of the August 2018 Inflation Report, and then remains at that level for the remaining life of the APF.footnote  These two illustrative scenarios – one for each of the two assumptions of the pace of APF unwind – are shown as Scenario 1B and 2B.
Projected annual net cash flows are indicated by the purple and orange bars in Chart 3 for Scenarios 1A and 2A, respectively, while the green and pink lines show the cumulative cash flows in each scenario. The difference in the pace of unwind across the scenarios has a minimal impact on the respective net cumulative lifetime NPV. In both scenarios, with annual unwind of £100 billion and £80 billion respectively, the NPV is approximately -£130 billion, as indicated by the red diamond in Chart 3.
Cumulative cash flows for Scenarios 1B and 2B are indicated by the blue and yellow lines respectively. While the NPV of these scenarios is only marginally affected by the differing pace of unwind, it remains sensitive to the assumed path for Bank Rate, albeit to a lesser extent than the simple cumulative cash flows. In both Scenarios 1B and 2B, in which Bank Rate gradually returns to an estimate of the equilibrium rate, the NPV is approximately -£50 billion, as indicated by the yellow diamond in Chart 3.
In previous APF Quarterly Reports, cash flow projections were based on an assumption that the pace of unwind was determined by a fixed rate of annual sales in addition to any maturities. Scenario 3A provides an illustrative projection based on this assumption.
- Sources: Bank of England calculations for data in relation to APF cash flows. Bloomberg Finance L.P. for market rates as at 29 September 2023. NPV calculations based on end-September 2023 data.
- (a) The stock of assets used for the projection of cumulative cash flows is based on holdings as at 29 September 2023, consistent with the holdings reported in Table A.
- (b) In all scenarios, the stock of gilts is assumed to reduce by a total of £100 billion in the year to September 2024 in line with the MPC’s September 2023 decision. Therefore, ‘Projected annual net cash flow, £80 billion’ and Scenarios 2A and 2B assume £80 billion unwind from September 2024 onwards.
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.
- 28 September 2022 The Bank announced it would undertake purchases of UK government bonds under its financial stability mandate. Purchases concluded as planned on the 14 October. Sales of this portfolio began on the 29 November 2022 and were concluded on the 12 January 2023.
- 6 June 2023 the Bank announced that it had completed its sales of sterling non-financial investment-grade corporate bonds.
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 2022/23.
- Asset Purchase Facility Quarterly Report – 2023 Q1.
- Asset Purchase Facility Quarterly Report – 2023 Q2.
Next publication date: 6 February 2024
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.
In 2025, £87.2 billion of APF gilts are due to mature. Scenarios 2A and 2B assume this is therefore the total annual unwind and no additional gilt sales take place during this year.
In addition, and across all scenarios projected, the portfolio of corporate bonds in the APF is assumed to unwind via maturities based on the approach set out by the Bank at the completion of sales on 6 June 2023 and in line with the MPC’s current policy.