The Bank of England said on Tuesday (5 July) that it would postpone demands for £5.7bn in extra financing to be held by commercial banks' balance sheets – known as the 'countercyclical capital buffer' – in light of the economic uncertainty triggered by the Brexit vote last month.
Furthermore, the UK central bank said would reduce the level of the buffer – pencilled in for 2017 – from the planned 0.5% of a banks' lending exposure to 0%.
In its latest Financial Stability Report, the Bank also said there were risks were on the horizon for the commercial property market, with foreign capital inflows falling by 50% in the first quarter of 2016.
The relaxation of capital requirements should allow banks to lend more to households and businesses, the Bank said. However, it also cautioned that consumers with high levels of debt could be vulnerable to any economic downturn following the EU referendum.
"The high level of UK household indebtedness [and] the vulnerability to higher unemployment and borrowing costs" could affect some households' ability to pay their debts.
It also said house prices could come under pressure, especially if buy-to-let investors' take-up of properties takes a hit. Following the 23 June referendum, the pound has fallen to its lowest level versus the dollar in 31-years and has witnessed extreme volatility in recent weeks.
Speaking after the release of the report, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said: "The two-day sterling fall after referendum was the sharpest for nearly half a century." While the movements have been "significant" and "sharp", they were "necessary" for economic adjustments in the economy, he added.
"Our actions today [i.e. postponement of capital buffers for banks] alone have released up to £150bn in new lending capacity to UK businesses and households. The Bank has a clear plan. We are rapidly putting its main elements in place. And it is working," he concluded.