Between 2007 and 2010, HM Treasury made a series of large financial interventions to support the financial stability of UK banking. These interventions supported four broad aims:
- to protect depositors;
- maintain liquidity for UK banks;
- maintain capital for UK banks; and
- to encourage banks to lend to creditworthy borrowers.
In line with international good practice, HM Treasury and the National Audit Office have worked to ensure that the scale and costs of the various government interventions are transparent. This page sets out the work the National Audit Office has done on the banking interventions and answers some frequently asked questions.
All figures are based on the most recently published HM Treasury Annual Report and Accounts (currently for the year ended 31 March 2020) and will be updated annually.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: Why did the Government provide support to UK banks?
In 2007, financial markets entered a sustained period of instability, causing difficulties for banks across the world, precipitating a global credit crisis, a widespread economic downturn and, by 2010, concern over certain Eurozone governments’ ability to service their debt obligations. HM Treasury, like many other finance ministries around the world, took actions to:
- protect depositors in banks suffering insolvency or a severe decline in market confidence;
- maintain liquidity to allow banks, whose failure would threaten the overall financial system, to pay claims and outstanding borrowings as they fell due;
- ensure that banks whose failure would threaten the overall financial system would have sufficient capital to cushion them from losses caused by further deterioration in the financial markets; and
- encourage banks to lend to creditworthy borrowers.
Q: What support did the Government provide?
HM Treasury’s support to the banks included:
This list excludes loans and commitments to other countries and wider interventions to support the economy. One such intervention is the BoE’s Quantitative Easing Programme, more details can be found on the BoE’s website: https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/monetary-policy.
Q: How much support did the Government provide to UK banks?
There were two types of support provided:
|Peak support (£bn)|
|Total peak support||1,162|
These figures set out our calculation of the total peak support provided to banks, including support that was made available but not used by a specific institution. They are calculated by adding all the support schemes together and removing overlaps.
The peak values have been taken from HM Treasury Annual Report and Accounts, Parliamentary supply estimates and National Audit Office (NAO) reports to Parliament. As each scheme and support facility was available at different times, the total peak support was not all available at a single point in time.
Q: Which banks received support from the UK government?
|Peak support (£bn)||Outstanding
31 March 2020
|Sector wide support schemes|
|Credit Guarantee Scheme||250||–|
|Special Liquidity Scheme||200||–|
|Asset Backed Securities Scheme||50||–|
|Unused recapitalisation fund||13||–|
|Other direct support to specific institutions|
|Royal Bank of Scotland|
|Asset Protection Scheme||202||–|
|Royal Bank of Scotland Ordinary and B shares||46||8.5|
|Lloyds Banking Group|
|Asset Protection Scheme||255||–|
|Lloyds Banking Group shares||21||–|
|Northern Rock and Northern Rock (Asset Management)||60||2.1|
|Bradford & Bingley||46||11.4|
Further information and notes to these figures are set out in the HM Treasury’s 2011-12 and 2019-20 Annual Report and Accounts.
Q: What is the current level of support provided?
The total current level of support provided to banks has fallen significantly from its peak level. This is because the sector wide support schemes have been withdrawn; some of the guaranteed debts and assets in the schemes have matured and been repaid; some guarantees to bank depositors and wholesale funders have been removed; some of the shareholdings have been sold; and banks have started to repay some of the Treasury loans.
|Total outstanding support as at 31 March 2020(£bn)|
The total £1,029 billion guarantees and non-cash support has fallen significantly and stood at £13.5 billion as at 31 March 2020 All of the sector wide support schemes have now closed and the figure now solely relates to Northern Rock and B&B undrawn loan facilities.
The £133 billion cash provided has been reduced to £32 billion through a variety of mechanisms:
- recoveries from the administrators of financial institutions and repayments by the FSCS levy payers;
- Northern Rock plc was sold to Virgin Money at the end of 2011;
- the government’s shareholding in Lloyds had been sold by 17 May 2017;
- repayments of government loans by UK Asset Resolution Limited from repayments and redemptions of mortgages and other loans, as well as sales of mortgage book portfolios.
As at 31 March 2020, there was only one significant outstanding cash outlay scheme and investment.
Shareholdings in Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS). The shares in RBS were purchased for £46 billion. The shareholding comprised ordinary shares, B shares and a single Dividend Access Share. In August 2015 some of the ordinary shares in RBS were sold for around £2.1 billion. In March 2016, the final Dividend Access Share dividend payment of £1.2 billion was received, bringing the total receipts to £1.5 billion and retiring the Dividend Access Share. All B shares were converted to ordinary share for market value during the 2015-16 financial year.
Shareholding in RBS was sold in August 2015 and June 2018 reducing the government’s shareholding to 62.1% by the end of March 2019. As at 31 March 2020, the remaining ordinary shares held by HM Treasury had a market value of £8.5 billion.
In August 2019, at its half year results, RBS announced dividends of 2.0p (Ordinary) and 12.0p (Special) per share. A dividend of £1.05 billion was paid to HM Treasury in September 2019, based on the government’s shareholding as of 16 August 2019. In February 2020, at its latest full year results, RBS announced dividends of 3.0p (Ordinary) and 5.0p (Special) per share. However, following a Prudential Regulation Authority letter to the largest deposit-takers in response to COVID-19 (published March 2020), RBS agreed to suspend dividends for the remainder of 2020 and cancel payments of any outstanding 2019 dividends.
At Budget 2020, the government set out its intention to undertake a full disposal of the RBS shareholding by 2024-25, subject to market conditions and achieving value for money.
Q: Did the support achieve value for money for the taxpayer?
We will continue to update Parliament on the status of the support schemes and major transactions, where appropriate.
Other related NAO reports
Reports on the support as a whole
- Evaluating the government balance sheet: financial assets and investments (June 2016)
- The C&AG’s Report on HM Treasury’s 2014-15 Annual Report and Accounts
- The C&AG’s Report on HM Treasury’s 2013-14 Annual Report and Accounts
- The C&AG’s Report on HM Treasury’s 2012-13 Resource Accounts
- The C&AG’s Report on HM Treasury’s 2011-12 Resource Accounts
- The C&AG’s Report on HM Treasury’s 2010-11 Resource Accounts
- Maintaining financial stability across the United Kingdom’s banking system (December 2009)
- Maintaining the financial stability of UK banks: Update on the support schemes (December 2010)
Last updated: November 2020