The Bank of England has again decided to keep the base interest rate steady at 5.25%. Let’s break down what this decision means for everyday homeowners and savers in the UK.
For the uninitiated, the base rate is the interest rate set by the Bank of England, which influences the borrowing costs for banks, and in turn, affects the interest rates for both savers and borrowers across the country.
This is the second time the Bank has chosen to keep this rate steady. Prior to these decisions, the rate had risen 14 times consecutively since December 2021.
Decoding the Decision
The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) – the people in charge of this decision – voted 6-3 in favour of maintaining the rate. This shows slightly more confidence than their previous vote in September, which was a narrow 5-4.
There’s growing belief that 5.25% might be the highest we’ll see the rate go for now. Even though the Bank hasn’t ruled out potential hikes, this pause might indicate their caution against further increases, especially if inflation doesn’t continue for a longer period than currently expected.
Why No Increase This Time?
Recent data showed that inflation (a measure of how prices rise over time) remained steady at 6.7% in September. This is significantly above the Bank’s target of 2%. The main tool the Bank has to combat high inflation is to increase interest rates. Higher interest rates mean borrowing becomes more expensive, which can help reduce spending and slow down inflation. But with inflation showing signs of settling down from its previous high levels, the Bank seems comfortable to wait and see how the situation develops.
Mortgage Holders: Time to Breathe?
Higher interest rates have meant higher mortgage costs for many, particularly those looking to get a new mortgage or change their current one.
For example, if you’re coming off a two-year fixed mortgage with a rate of 2.29% and moving to today’s average of 6.31%, on a £200,000 mortgage, your monthly payments could jump by £451. That’s a steep increase.
But, there’s a glimmer of hope. Some experts in the mortgage industry think this pause by the Bank is a sign that the worst of the hikes may be behind us. This could bring some stability and possibly even some decreases in mortgage rates in the future.
What About Savers?
While rising interest rates have generally been bad news for borrowers, they’ve been a blessing for savers. Higher rates mean savers get better returns on their money.
However, with the possibility that we’ve reached the peak of interest rate hikes, the golden period for savers might be winding down. Top savings deals, like Santander’s 5.2% rate, have already started to disappear.
So, if you’ve been waiting for the right moment to lock in a good savings rate, now might be the time.
Predicting the exact path of interest rates is tricky. While some experts see potential for slight reductions in rates as we move into 2024, others think we might stay around the current levels for a while longer.
What’s clear is that both borrowers and savers should keep a close eye on the market, and maybe even seek expert advice, to ensure they’re making the best financial decisions for their circumstances.