Bank of England Citizens’ Panel
In this article, John McMullan writes about the Bank of England Citizens' Panel, what it is and how it can be useful in having public views heard by senior officials at the Bank of England
Bank of England nameplate
By John McMullan
October 4, 2023

I’ve been the volunteer Chair of the N Ireland Citizens Panel for the last 4 years. I agreed to do it because I believe it’s important for local people’s voices to be heard by senior officials at the BoE.  It’s helpful that the BoE is exposed to cooperative and mutualised concepts of banking and financial services. The Panel discussions provide the opportunity to engage with the BoE and draw attention to and explore with the BoE the key economic and financial services impacting on us all. The Panel events are open to the general public through application to attend.  Panels normally involve circa 30 individuals, drawn from those who respond to an open call to attend. I would recommend to those of us interested in advocating for a mutualised bank serving those often excluded or penalised by the traditional banking system to consider attending.

The Panels were established following a recommendation by the RSA, in March 2018 and the BoE announced it would begin work on setting up regional ‘Citizens’ Panels’ through its UK Agency network to improve engagement with members of the public. The aim is to hold 24 panels each year, with two in each Agency region/devolved nation of the UK.

Each Citizens’ Panel is chaired by a volunteer independent chair from the local community, who also acts as a champion for the panels.

The main aims of the panels are to:

  • Create a greater understanding about the role of the BoE and its policies, in particular with regard to monetary and financial stability.

  • Reach a broader set of stakeholders and engage in more dialogue with the UK public, thereby building credibility and trust in the BoE.

  • Gather policy-relevant intelligence from households to complement the existing array of data and analysis received by policymakers.

  • Discussion topics for the panels are determined and reviewed by a Citizens’ Panel Steering Group (including policy experts from across the BoE). Citizens’ Panel discussion topics are very widespread, and have included the labour market, housing, access to cash and consumer spending. There is a high level of interest in the BoE’s monetary policy, especially the impact of low interest rates and Quantitative Easing.

The topics for discussion at the most recent panel were:

  1. How are the cost of living changes affecting you?

  2. The current rate of inflation, or the increase in the cost of goods and services, is 9.9%.  What do you think are the main causes of high inflation and what would you like to see done (by the BoE and others) to bring inflation down?

Panels provide the opportunity to explore the roles and functions of the BoE. Time is allocated at each meeting for panel members to raise other topics and ask questions of the BoE’s most senior officials.

These panel events ensure the BoE is remains in open dialogue with attendees from the general public and hear the concerns of ordinary people across the UK.

John McMullan

John McMullan was CEO of Bryson Group until retirement in 2018. He was appointed Vice Chair of the Housing Executive Board in 2019 and Chair of the Housing Executive’s Audit, Risk & Assurance Committee and is a Member of the Tenant & Customer Services Committee. John is a Life Fellow of RSA.