The British government has spent 131 billion pounds ($218 billion) supporting banks through the global credit crisis, and has extended loans and guarantees in excess of 600 billion pounds, government auditors said Friday.
The National Audit Office said it was too early to calculate the full cost of government intervention, which included nationalizing two banks, buying a controlling stake in Royal Bank of Scotland and more than 40 percent of Lloyds Banking Group.
The net cash outlay, including 14 billion pounds in fees, loan redemptions and other payments to the Treasury by banks, will be 117 billion pounds by year's end, the report said.
Guarantees provided by the Treasury included 200 billion pounds to the Bank of England for liquidity support, 250 billion for wholesale borrowing and insurance on potential losses of up to 282 billion pounds for Royal Bank of Scotland.
All of those figures had been in the public domain.
"If the support measures had not been put in place, the scale of the economic and social costs if one or more major U.K. banks had collapsed is difficult to envision," the report said.
"The support provided to the banks was therefore justified, but the final cost to the taxpayer of the support will not be known for a number of years."
The report noted that a full reckoning would have to include indirect impacts, such as the costs of higher than expected government borrowing as the crisis deepened.
The Treasury has estimated that the final net cost of supporting banks will be between 20 billion pounds and 50 billion pounds.
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