UK Government Increases Debt Sales To £241bn

UK Central Bank

The UK Debt Management Office (DMO) said it is planning to sell £241 billion of gilts in the current financial year — more than the £233 billion estimated by strategists in a Bloomberg survey.

That will be the highest annual sale of UK Government debt securities on record apart from £485.8 billion sold in 2020-21 during the pandemic.

UK public sector debt (PSND ex) at the end of December 2022 was £2.503 trillion or around 99.5% of gross domestic product (GDP), with the debt to GDP ratio at levels last seen in the early 1960s.

“The DMO’s financing remit for 2023-24 has been published … alongside Spring Budget 2023,” said the Debt Management Office.

“The Net Financing Requirement (NFR) for the DMO in 2023-24 is forecast to be £246.1 billion; this will be financed by gilt sales of £241.1 billion (including planned green gilt sales of £10.0 billion) and net Treasury bill sales for debt management purposes of £5.0 billion.”

Reuters reported that the DMO wants to make sure that its primary dealers are not overburdened by the amount of debt they need to bid for and sell on to customers.

DMO chief executive Robert Stheeman told Reuters: “Global financial markets are pretty stressed and volatile. Some of the movements that have occurred over the last week in fixed income markets have been huge.”

Stheeman added: “Behind the scenes, we’re very focused on the duration risk and spreading that out, and make sure that supply doesn’t unnecessarily weigh on the balance sheet capacity and the intermediation capacity of our primary dealers.

“We do what we can, while obviously needing to raise a very large amount of money.”

Over the coming year, the DMO aims to sell £86.7 billion of short-dated bonds, £65.3 billion of medium-dated, £50.1 billion of long-dated gilts and £26.2 billion of inflation-linked debt.

Reuters reported the DMO has also had to develop a working relationship with the UK central bank, which now has its own separate bond auction programme.

The two organisations have agreed not to hold auctions on the same day — but there can now be as many as four separate UK government bond sales in a week.

“This is a process that’s been going on now for a couple of months, and which so far has worked quite well,” Stheeman said.

“It does mean of course that the calendar looks very crowded from the perspective of the street.”