Several top economists have predicted that we won’t see a rise in the Bank of England’s base rate (set at 0.25% since August 2016) for at least another year. Some think we could be well into 2019 before the BoE is ready to make a change.
The perceived main blocker for a rate rise is Britain’s impending exit from the EU, which continues to cast its shadow across governmental and corporate decision making. Stuart Green of Santander Global Corporate Banking was quoted in a BBC article saying he thought policymakers would wait for “greater clarity…around the UK’s post-EU trading framework” before acting.
With personal debt sky high at the moment, this cautiousness could also be a way of protecting the UK from another recession, something the Guardian’s Zoe Williams referred to in her piece about debt on 4 September.
A ‘modest rise’, as called for by Monetary Policy Committee member Michael Saunders in his August speech in Cardiff, would potentially curb inflation, which is continuing to dent consumer confidence.
In fact, a recent Lloyds Bank poll indicated that consumers’ worries about inflation were at their highest in three and a half years. Quoted in a Guardian piece on 4 September, managing director of Lloyds Bank, Robin Bulloch, said “concerns around inflation have continued to build, which has an impact on future intentions. With the rate of savings already at a record low, significantly fewer people now expect to be putting more money aside in six months’ time… it does mean consumers are less able to absorb any further squeeze on their finances.”
A rate rise would also be welcome news for those with savings in the bank, as they would finally see a better return on their money.
Inflation is still above the 2% target at 2.6% and wages aren’t increasing to match it. That means higher prices for daily costs, taking a bigger bite out of household incomes.
Those who have managed to squirrel away money in savings accounts are unlikely to see the higher rates of interest they were hoping for. They may turn away from traditional banks in pursuit of options that offer a more robust return.
Homeowners looking to renegotiate their mortgages, however, may see some positives. In fact, remortgaging activity is currently high as people rush to lock in the lowest possible rate for the longest possible term.
Many economists are predicting a further peak in inflation before it comes down again, plus another dip in the pound’s value against the Euro.
Facing higher prices, weaker sterling and bloated levels of debt, it’s no wonder that Brits with a bit of cash in the bank are turning to alternative ways of making more out of their money, from higher-risk stocks and shares, to investments that rely on the peer-to-peer market.