The Office of National Statistics (ONS) has said that Northern Rock will now be classified as part of the public sector as a public financial corporation for statistical purposes.

The new classification will be applied to the company from 9 October 2007 onward – the date on which support arrangements by the Bank of England were amended.

The ONS was quick however to point out that the reclassification should not be confused with nationalisation of the company.

The ONS pointed out that while the company's general corporate policy was under public control, actual ownership of Northern Rock still rested with its shareholders.

The ONS said that, due to powers that the Bank of England has taken as part of its secured lending facility arrangements through covenants in the loan agreements, control of Northern Rock's general corporate policy could now be said to be under the control of the public sector.

The ONS pointed out that Northern Rock is unable to do things such as: enter into corporate restructuring, make dividend payments or acquire or dispose of certain types of assets; without permission from the Central Bank.