The Bank of England has announced its largest interest rate rise in almost 30 years. The UK now faces soaring inflation rates and cost of living expenses.
The Bank of England has warned that this will result in the UK economy being plunged into a recession for more than a year this autumn as the rising energy prices push inflation above 13%.
The Bank also forecasts that the combined five quarters of economic contraction, a 5% fall in real-terms living standards, and increased interest rates by 0.5 percentage points will result in the largest single inflation rate rise in 28 years.
The Bank’s baseline forecast is also forecasting the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) to fall by 1.25% in 2023 and 0.25% in 2024. This will show the first example of two years of annual economic contraction since the 1960s.
The Bank’s Monetary Policy committee voted 8-1 to increase the base rate to 1.75% as an attempt to prevent the inflationary impact of soaring energy prices being compounded by domestic price and wage pressures.
The interest rate increase will add around £650 to annual mortgage repayments for those with an average tracker mortgage. Monthly tracker repayments for homeowners have been increasing since interest rates began rising from 0.1% last December (2021) at around £170.
This relentlessly cruel inflation rate which now is going to be the highest since September 1980, is being driven by the ever increasing cost of wholesale gas on the international markets. This has doubled since May and is now on course to treble domestic energy bills.
This is a cost that the poorest and most vulnerable will not be able to meet.
The Bank also believes that the domestic energy price cap is expected to reach £3,500 per household in October. This will push the inflation rate to peak at 13.3% in the fourth quarter of this year and is also expected to remain above 10% until the middle of next year.
However the Inflation rates are also forecasted to fall back slightly to 9.5% in the third quarter and 5.5% by the end of the 2023.
The domestic energy price cap is sadly expected to increase again when the energy regulator Ofgem will review the costs in January. The MPC (Marginal Propensity to Consume) believes that the inflationary impact will be offset by falls in other areas. It has also said that the goods price inflation costs may have peaked but commodity prices are already beginning to fall back.
Real living standards are forecasted to fall by 1.5% this year and 2.25% next year, with a 5% decline. This includes the direct government support payments of at least £400 per-bill payer. These payments don’t even scratch the surface of the real life devastating impact of increasing energy costs that less well off people are already facing.
A five-quarter recession which will end in the first quarter of 2024 would be very similar in length to the financial downturns of 2007-08 and also the early 1990s and early 1980s. However this won’t be as deep as the previous financial crisis with a predicted decline in GDP of 2.1%.
The Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee have also stated that the ever increasing energy prices are responsible for the majority of the rise in inflation, but also keep in mind the continued COVID supply chain disruption is still playing a significant factor in rising costs.
The MPC is also forecasting that wages will rise by 6% this year but has also warned that as the recession starts to take hold unemployment will probably begin to rise next year from the current 3.8% sending it to peak at 5.5%.
The explanation given by the MPC is as follows: “The United Kingdom is now projected to enter a recession from the fourth quarter of this year. Real household post-tax income is projected to fall sharply in 2022 and 2023 while consumption turns negative.”
“The labour market remains tight, and domestic cost and price pressures are elevated. There is a risk that a longer period of externally generated price inflation will lead to more enduring domestic price and wage pressures.
“In view of these considerations, the Committee voted to increase the Bank Rate by 0.5 percentage points, to 1.75%.”
Personal finance expert Gemma Godfrey is quoted as saying on Sky News
“The Bank of England had a “tough challenge” when it came to trying to control inflation and it was a “war on all fronts”.
She said: “The Bank of England has a really tough challenge where they’re trying to control inflation, but they don’t want to tip us into recession.
“So what we’ve been hearing for the past few months is that our economy has been slowing down. We’re not spending as much. Companies aren’t selling as much. And that obviously risks jobs.
“But obviously, everybody is aware that our everyday living costs are rising. They’re set to rise by more than five times as much as the target the Bank of England sets.
“And it’s a war on all fronts, it’s food, it’s energy, people are really struggling. So the Bank of England will try and increase rates to try and slow this down.
“But there’s calls that they’ve been too slow or they’re being too aggressive. It’s a very tough balancing act for the many millions of families around the UK.”
Responding to the Bank of England’s announcement today, Labours shadow chancellor Ms Reeves said Tory leadership candidates were “touring the country” and announcing unworkable policies that would not help people get through the cost of living crisis.
She said: “This is further proof that the Conservatives have lost control of the economy, with skyrocketing inflation set to continue, while mortgage and borrowing rates continue to rise.
“Labour would help households right now by removing the tax breaks that are subsidising oil and gas producers and using that money to help people now, including by cutting VAT on energy bills.”
Meanwhile The Labour Party have failed to commit to lowering energy costs.
Conservative former chancellor Ken Clarke has warned of a “very unpleasant” winter for many households in the country.
Lord Clarke of Nottingham told the BBC: “Nothing is certain, but I’ve thought for some time we faced the risk of an extremely serious recession.”
“This winter is certainly going to be very unpleasant for many households in the country and I think it’s absolutely inevitable the Bank of England acted as it did.”
“I’d have been rather alarmed if they hadn’t put it up by at least 0.5%. I think the Monetary Policy Committee probably considered 0.75%… but decided in the present circumstances that that was too fast.
“They’ve taken the right decision and they’re going to have to do it again as the year goes on.”
Meanwhile this leaves the average person facing spiralling cost of living expenses and dramatically increasing energy costs whilst receiving little or no adequate financial help or support.
Without adequate financial help the UK will undoubtably face thousands of vulnerable people suffering or worse as the poorest always pay the highest cost for these increasing prices.
Action needs to be taken now to prevent these possible deaths by tackling OFGEM and their refusal to challenge the energy companies.
There isn’t a person with compassion that can think that it’s ok for energy companies to profit in such a manner whilst people face a long, bleak winter with no sight of help or relief.
However with the Conservative Party and probable future prime minister Liz Truss at the helm of the country, they will undoubtably find a way to profit from this situation whilst ignoring the scale of the energy and cost of living crisis that the UK is facing.