Bank of England come clean - stop secret business bailouts now

Andrew Bailey, Governor of the Bank of England

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While small and independent businesses are struggling to survive, the Bank of England is creating billions of pounds of new money to bail out Britain’s biggest companies - in secret.

The Bank of England is a public body that’s meant to work for the good of the people. This lack of transparency is dangerous and undemocratic, especially during this time of crisis. This is public money pure and simple, we deserve to know where it’s being spent.

To help combat the economic fallout of Coronavirus, the Treasury and the Bank of England created the Covid Corporate Financing Facility to specifically support the UK's biggest companies impacted by the crisis. So far they've handed out £18.7 billion in bailouts, with another £30 billion agreed - almost all of it hidden from public view. [1]

To receive funds businesses have to sign a confidentiality agreement and the Bank of England itself said “the names of issuers and securities purchased or eligible will not be made public.” We've only learnt about a handful of companies (EasyJet, Greggs, Redrow Homes and First Group) in a backhanded way through the press. [2]

The Bank of England must lift it’s veil of secrecy and make all corporate bailouts public now!

[1] https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/-/media/boe/files/weekly-report/2020/22-april-2020.pdf?la=en&hash=31D83654721FAEA3ED88FBE9BF2E334F121C3DF7

[2] https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/apr/06/easyjet-secures-600m-coronavirus-loan-from-uk-treasury-and-bank

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To: Andrew Bailey, Governor of the Bank of England
From: [Your Name]

The coronavirus pandemic is causing an unprecedented economic crisis which is impacting every part of the UK economy. Whilst we greatly applaud the Bank’s speedy response in trying to counter the impacts of this economic shock, we find certain aspects of your recovery measures worrying - first and foremost the lack of transparency surrounding the Corporate Covid Financing Facility (CCFF).

In your information for those seeking to participate in the CCFF, the Bank of England stated “names of issuers and securities purchased or eligible will not be made public.” This in effect means there can be no public oversight of which firms are being bailed out with public money via the scheme.

As of 22 April, the Bank of England has bought £11.218 billion of short term debt from 35 companies via the CCFF, but because of the secrecy surrounding recipient firms, less than 20% of this has been accounted for. We've only learnt where a small fraction of this huge sum has ended up from reports in the media, and not from the Bank of England's own publication.

The need for transparency is also compounded by the absence of any social and environmental conditions attached to CCFF support. With deals being struck outside of the public eye there is no chance for democratic scrutiny which runs counter to the Bank’s own position as a public institution intended to promote the good of all people of the United Kingdom.

In the interests of transparency and oversight, we’re asking you to lift the veil of secrecy and publish the full list of companies which are being bailed out with public money via the Covid Corporate Financing Facility, and remove the requirement for firms to sign any kind of confidentiality agreement going forward.