Warwickshire business leaders’ caution over interest rate rise

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BUSINESS leaders say companies across the region saw the rise in interest rates to 0.5 per cent coming and will be concerned about further increases.

The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee put interest rates up for the first time in a decade today, Thursday, which the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce said was broadly expected.

“This rise is restoring rates to their pre-Brexit levels which, at the time, was a record low any way,” Louise Bennett, chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said.

“So we don’t believe companies across our patch will be dramatically concerned by this individual rise as it has been widely predicted. We feel it is still slightly early when you look at the economic performance over the past 12 months.

“The real concern is where interest rates might go and how quickly. There is still huge uncertainty around Brexit, and economic growth is some way short of where we want it to be.

“There are inflationary pressures, which the Bank will have considered in this decision, but they have not come from a sudden rise in consumer confidence but, actually, a weakening of the pound which has driven up the cost on imported goods.

“Businesses used to watch with interest on every first Thursday of the month to see where rates would go but that hasn’t been the case for many years now – I have no doubt we will be monitoring interest rates with a keen eye from now on.”