Base interest rate remains unchanged at 5.25%
The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) has decided to keep the Bank Rate at 5.25% by a majority vote of 5-4 .
Four members favoured a 0.25 percentage point increase to 5.5%. Simultaneously, the MPC unanimously agreed to reduce the stock of UK government bond purchases by £100 billion over the next year, bringing it to a total of £658 billion.
The MPC’s August projections anticipated CPI inflation to return to the 2% target by 2025 Q2 but then fall below target in the medium term due to declining domestic and external cost pressures. Global economic growth remains consistent with previous projections, but there has been a notable rise in spot oil prices and persistent inflationary pressures in advanced economies.
The UK economy faced a 0.5% GDP decline in July, and there are signs of labor market loosening despite historical tightness. Wage growth has exceeded expectations, but some indicators of pay growth are more stable. CPI inflation has fallen from 7.9% in June to 6.7% in August, with core goods inflation weaker than expected. Services inflation showed some volatility, partly due to seasonal factors.
CPI inflation is expected to decrease further, primarily due to lower energy inflation and declining food and core goods prices. Services price inflation is projected to remain elevated, potentially with some short-term fluctuations.
The MPC emphasises its commitment to the 2% inflation target and acknowledges that inflation may deviate due to shocks. The current monetary policy stance is considered restrictive, with Bank Rate increases since the start of the tightening cycle. The MPC will closely monitor inflation indicators and economic resilience, with further tightening in monetary policy possible if persistent inflationary pressures arise.
Additionally, the Committee has decided to reduce the stock of purchased UK government bonds by £100 billion over the next 12 months, continuing its strategy to manage monetary policy effectively.
Back in December 2021 the base rate was at 0.1% and has seen a rise since.
The Bank Rate / Interest Rate
The ‘Bank Rate’ is the single most important interest rate in the UK. In the news, it’s sometimes called the ‘Bank of England base rate’ or even just ‘the interest rate’.
How Bank Rate affects you partly depends on if you are borrowing or saving money.
If rates fall and you have a loan or mortgage, your interest payments may get cheaper. And, if you have savings, you may be paid less interest. If interest rates fall, it’s cheaper for households and businesses to increase the amount they borrow but it’s less rewarding to save.
Lower rates also tend to increase the value of wealth, such as people’s pensions or housing, compared to what they would have been.
Bank of England explanation
In the June 2023 Monetary Policy Summary, the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee announced an increase in the Bank Rate from 4.5% to 5% by a majority vote of 7-2. Two members preferred to maintain the rate at 4.5%. The decision was driven by a rise in gilt yields and mortgage rates, indicating an average Bank Rate of around 5.5%. The committee is closely monitoring the impact of previous rate increases, which will take time to fully manifest due to the prevalence of fixed-rate mortgages.
Economic indicators suggest a modest quarterly GDP growth of around 0.25% in the middle of the year, with strengthening indicators of household spending. Employment has shown stronger growth than expected, leading to a fall in the inactivity rate and a steady unemployment rate of 3.8%. Average weekly earnings have increased to 7.6% in the three months to April, with indications of future growth, but expectations suggest a slowdown in the rest of the year.
Consumer price inflation (CPI) has fallen from 10.1% in March to 8.7% in April and remained at that level in May. Services CPI inflation exceeded expectations at 7.4% in May, while core goods price inflation has also been stronger than projected. However, there are indications that CPI inflation will decrease significantly in the coming months, driven by developments in energy prices. The MPC’s primary objective remains to ensure that CPI inflation returns sustainably to the 2% target in the medium term.
Internationally, global GDP growth is expected to be marginally stronger than previously anticipated, with positive developments in the US and resolution of US debt ceiling negotiations. Labour markets remain tight in the euro area and the US, contributing to elevated services price inflation. Gas and oil prices have experienced volatility, while consumer price inflation has declined in the euro area and the US.
Inflation is a measure of how much the prices of goods (such as food or televisions) and services (such as haircuts or train tickets) have gone up over time.
Usually people measure inflation by comparing the cost of things today with how much they cost a year ago. The average increase in prices is known as the inflation rate.
So if inflation is 3%, it means prices are 3% higher (on average) than they were a year ago. For example, if a loaf of bread cost £1 a year ago and now it’s £1.03 then its price has risen by 3%.
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