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Bank rescues of 2007-09: outcomes and cost

Published Monday, October 8, 2018

This note sums up the amounts spent and recovered by the government in the bank rescues of the 2007-09 financial crisis.

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September 2007 saw the first run on a British bank in 150 years, after news broke out that Northern Rock needed emergency support from the Bank of England. People were queuing outside branches to withdraw their deposits. On 17 September 2007, the then Chancellor, Alistair Darling, announced the government would guarantee all deposits, to try and stop the panic. The financial crisis had started in earnest.

From September 2007 to December 2009, the then Labour Government made a number of interventions to support the banking sector generally and several banks specifically. It injected £137 billion of public money in loans and capital to stabilise the financial system, most of which has been recouped over the years.

This note summarises the amounts spent and recovered in these interventions. The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) estimates that, as at the end of January 2018, the interventions cost the public £23 billion overall. The net balance is the result of a £27 billion loss on the RBS rescue, offset by some net gains on other schemes. The Government is estimated to have just about recovered what it spent rescuing Lloyds, once financing costs and fees received are taken into account.

In addition to cash support, the Treasury also provided financial guarantees to help restore confidence in the banks. Guarantees are promises to repay or compensate investors if they lose their money, so that if all goes well, guarantees don’t cost the Government. The National Audit Office (NAO) estimates that total guarantees added up to over £1 trillion at peak support. Outstanding guarantees stood at £14 billion as at 31 March 2018.

Commons Briefing papers SN05748

Author: Federico Mor

Topics: Financial institutions, Financial services

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