Inflation up and Base Rate remains unchanged

The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) voted by a majority of 7-1 to maintain Bank Rate at 0.25%.

Kristin Forbes was the lone dissenter voting to increase Bank Rate by 25 basis points.

CPI inflation rose to 2.3% in March, and the MPC expects it to rise further above the target 2% in the coming months, peaking just below 3% in the fourth quarter of this year.

The MPC said that wage growth has been weaker than expected but should recover.

Andy Knee, chief executive of LMS, commented: “The Bank of England’s forecast of rising inflation plus a fall in real wages this year equals a tighter squeeze on household budgets across the country.

“Now is the time to remortgage and ease the strain. One in five households (19%) managed to reduce their monthly repayments by remortgaging in March, according to LMS. Families should remortgage now while interest rates are low and before economic conditions worsen later in the year.

Ishaan Malhi, CEO and founder of online mortgage broker Trussle, said: “The Bank of England’s continued reluctance to raise rates certainly won’t be pleasing savers, but anyone looking to buy their first home or switch mortgage can breathe a sigh of relief.

“Locking in a low fixed rate mortgage now can save you an absolute fortune in the long run, especially if you’re one of the three million UK homeowners currently paying over the odds on a lender’s standard variable rate.

“With inflation still climbing, the signs suggests that the first interest rate rise in a decade may come soon. Any homeowners thinking about remortgaging, or hopeful first-time buyers holding back until the result of the General Election is known, should act soon to avoid missing out on historically low mortgage rates.”

Ben Brettell, senior economist at Hargreaves Lansdown, noted: “Unsurprisingly interest rates were left unchanged, with just Kristin Forbes voting for a 0.25% rise to 0.5%. However, the Bank also warned that rates may have to rise sooner and faster than the market currently expects.

“Wage growth, which has been notably lacklustre of late, is seen picking up sharply next year. It might not take much positive economic data to persuade further MPC members to join Forbes and vote to hike rates, though it should be noted that she is due to leave the MPC at the end of June.

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