What next for UK interest rates?
Interest rates finally rose above 0.5 per cent in August – almost a decade after the emergency cut to that level. The Bank of England's MPC voted to raise rates to 0.75 per cent on 2nd August, casting aside worries over a no-deal Brexit, as it said that low unemployment merited a hike to keep inflation on target.
The 9-0 vote to raise rates was accompanied by a quarterly Inflation Report, which showed that, despite August’s hike, the market outlook was for rates to go up more slowly over the next three years than previously expected and that no further move is expected until at least the middle of next year. The recent rate rise was widely expected as the Bank had not sent out any signals to dampen forecasts of a hike, unlike in the run-up to the May decision when a move up failed to happen. The question now is whether this is a one-off hike, or the start of a slow but steady rise in interest rates. A lot will depend on how the British economy fares over the rest of this year and into 2019, before the UK's exit from the EU. If there is a marked slowdown then it is likely that rates will stall again. Even worse, a recession would most likely see a further interest rate cut.
Despite August’s interest rate rise to 0.75 per cent, it was not necessarily good news for savers. Nationwide was the first large player to announce its new rates and decided not to pass on the 0.25% rise in full to savers in the first sign that big financial institutions will use the base rate to increase profit margins. The building society said that while its tracker mortgage customers will see a 0.25% rise in their payments, many of its savers will see only a 0.1% increase in rates. Other banks including RBS and Natwest followed suit. In summary – bad for borrowers and bad for savers.
After 10 years of zero or near zero interest rates, savers can rightly feel aggrieved that when rates do finally rise – not the entire amount is being passed on by the banks. Whilst having a sensible amount held on deposit is essential, looking at alternative savings and investment schemes is advisable to generate a real return to at least move in line with inflation. Anyone who has left their savings in cash for the last 10 years will have seen a likely deterioration in value due to a combination of next to no return and the impact of inflation over the same period. To emphasise this point, the impact of inflation over the last 10 years means that £10,000 held in a bank account in 2008 would have needed to grow to over £13,000 by now to combat the effects of inflation. It is unlikely that your bank interest over the 10 years has amounted to over 30% meaning that the real value of your capital has been eroded.
At Blacktower we offer a wide range of investment schemes tailored to suit your specific needs as we are aware that everyone has unique requirements. In order to avail yourself of this service, one of our qualified advisers can be at hand to discuss your options with you and to help you make the right decisions on what to do with your hard-earned savings.