Bank of England asks banks to estimate pandemic loan losses

FILE PHOTO: General view of the Canary Wharf financial district, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in London, Britain, May 5, 2020. REUTERS/Marika Kochiashvili/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - The Bank of England will gather more information from banks on their likely losses on loans due to the pandemic, its deputy governor Sam Woods said on Thursday.

The BoE’s Prudential Regulation Authority will gather the data ahead of banks’ second quarter earnings to compare the timing and amount of losses with those it modelled last month.

“This information will enable us to identify any significant outliers and to further refine our estimates for future capital exercises,” Woods said in a letter to banks.

Britain is facing its worst recession in 300 years due to a national lockdown that has shuttered businesses and furloughed millions of employees, with losses on loans to companies set to rocket.

The Bank estimated last month that loan losses at banks could reach 80 billion pounds by the end of 2021, but that lenders are robust enough to maintain the flow of credit to companies and households.

The BoE has already issued guidance on how banks can take into account government relief measures such as loans and repayment holidays on mortgages when calculating expected losses and how much capital should be set aside to cover them.

On Thursday, Woods set out further guidance on how banks should assess the capital and accounting treatment for the three-month holiday on mortagage payments that end this month in some cases ahead of second quarter earnings statements.

Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Andrew Heavens