By this time next week, we will know if the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) has increased interest rates. If they do, it will take the base rate above 0.5% for the first time since March 2009.
A month ago most pundits thought an increase was nailed on.
But a fall in inflation to 2.5% and sluggish growth of only 0.1% in the first quarter of 2018 may persuade the MPC to leave rates unchanged.
Either way, Cumbrian businesses get the chance to question senior Bank of England officials at a Chamber breakfast in Carlisle on Tuesday May 15.
The Bank’s Agency for the North East and North Cumbria will present their forecasts for growth and inflation and explain the latest interest rate decision. They will also take questions.
The session at the Crown & Mitre Hotel, in English Street, runs from 8-9.30am.
To book your place at this free event, click here.
It’s vital that the decision makers at the Bank can hear what’s happening in the real economy outside the London bubble.
Please note this is a private briefing for businesses. Discussions and presentations are off the record. The media will not be present.
Rob Johnston, Chief Executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, said: “The visit is part of an intelligence-gathering programme where Bank officials speak to businesses and feed the information back to the MPC.
“We are keen to host events like this because it’s vital that the decision makers at the Bank can speak directly to Cumbrian businesses to hear what’s happening in the real economy outside the London bubble.”
He added: “When Bank of England officials last came to one of our events in Carlisle nine months ago, inflation was on the rise and growth was stronger than expected. Now the reverse is true.
“The one thing that hasn’t changed is the Chamber’s position – that interest rates should stay where they are.
“We expected inflation to start falling as price rises caused by the weakness of sterling after the EU referendum dropped out of the figures. That has started to happen now and it means there is no need to raise rates to contain inflation.
“And while growth in the first quarter was almost certainly depressed by severe weather in March, the fact remains that the economy is ticking over rather than overheating. A rate rise could snuff out what growth there is.
“Businesses already face higher costs from the increases in business rates, auto-enrolment pension contributions and the National Minimum Wage. The last thing they need is to pay more for borrowings too.
“That’s the message we are delivering to the Bank loud and clear.”