Bank of England FAQs

Answers to frequently asked questions including who we are, what we do and who pays for our work.

About the Bank of England

  • We are the United Kingdom’s central bank. We are a public body and our mission is to maintain monetary and financial stability in the UK.

    That work includes making sure prices are stable, banking services are safe, and the UK financial system is sound.

  • Our job is to make sure the UK’s monetary and financial system is stable and secure. Our work includes: 

    • providing ways to pay for things safely. We produce banknotes that are hard to counterfeit so you can trust them. We run the UK’s electronic payments system so you can pay for things easily with a card
    • making sure banks are well run. We keep a close watch on banks and other financial companies. We set the rules for how they’re run financially and find out if they’re following the rules. If a bank goes bust, we make sure it doesn’t cause problems for their customers, UK taxpayers and the UK economy
    • keeping price rises (inflation) low and stable. The Government set us a target of keeping inflation at 2% because low and stable inflation is good for the UK economy. 

    Find out more about what we do.

  • The Bank of England was established in 1694 to act as a banker to the Government. You can explore a timeline of our history
  • The UK government owns the Bank of England.

    The Treasury Solicitor, on behalf of HM Treasury, holds our entire capital (around £14.6 million). This figure refers to  under its accounting definition, not our total equity, which includes retained earnings.

    The £14.6 million is the current value of the shares (known as ‘bank stock’) that the Government bought from private ownership when the Bank of England was nationalised in 1946. The Government compensated former stockholders with new stock the Treasury created called ‘3% Treasury Stock 1966 or after’.

    In 1997, the Government gave us greater independence to carry out our mission. 

    Find out more about who owns the Bank of England.

  • As a public body, we are answerable to the UK public through the UK parliament.

    In Parliament, the House of Commons Treasury Committee holds us to account. They regularly question our senior members of staff, including our Governor. When this happens, you can watch it live on Parliament’s website or read a transcript of it later. 

    Find out more about how Parliament holds us to account.

  • Although we are a public body, we do not get a budget from the UK Treasury. Instead, we generate the funds we need for our work by:

    • investing the money banks have to hold with us (this is called the 'Cash Ratio Deposit scheme')
    • charging the firms we regulate a fee
    • providing banking services to our customers, who include overseas central banks
    • charging for the cost of producing banknotes
    • charging a management fee for services we provide to government agencies
    • investing the capital we have built up over 300 years.

    We generate more income than we spend, so each year we contribute millions of pounds to the UK Treasury. 

    Read our short guide to Who pays for the Bank of England.

    You can also find more information about our sources of funds in the financial review section of our Annual Report.

  • All the profits we make from printing banknotes go to HM Treasury.

    Each year, a proportion of any profits we make from our other activities goes to HM Treasury. The exact proportion depends on how much capital we need to hold to absorb any losses. The profits we don’t pay to the Treasury go into our reserves.

    Read more in the ‘Financial relationship between HM Treasury and the Bank: memorandum of understanding’ document. 

    In 2019, we made about £80 million on printing banknotes and all the profits went to the Treasury. We made a profit of £110 million from our other activities - £55 million of this went to the Treasury and £55 million into our reserves.

    Each year, we are required to submit our annual report and accounts to Parliament.

  • The Queen appoints the Governor of the Bank of England following a recommendation by the .

  • Our new Governor will be Andrew Bailey. 

    The Government announced the appointment on 20 December 2019. He will begin his term on 16 March 2020.

  • The Governor serves for a single term of eight years. This is set out in The Financial Services Act 2012

    In September 2018, the Government asked Governor Mark Carney to extend his term to 31 January 2020 to support a smooth exit from the European Union.

    In December 2019, the Government appointed a new Governor and extended Governor Mark Carney's term to 15 March 2020, to support a smooth transition between them. 

  • Our offices are closed to the public but you are very welcome to visit our free Bank of England Museum.

    Sometimes we also hold free events in our main building, which you can register for in advance. Find out more about our public activities and events
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This page was last updated 28 May 2020

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