Business

Interest rate rise will be higher than expected next month, Bank of England chief suggests

Interest rates will have to be raised higher than initially hoped in the face of inflationary pressures, the Bank of England (BoE) governor has suggested.

Speaking at an International Monetary Fund event in Washington, Andrew Bailey also said there had been “a very clear and immediate meeting of minds” with new Chancellor Jeremy Hunt on the need for financial stability and the measures to achieve it.

Hunt warns of ‘difficult decisions’ – follow politics latest

It comes after Mr Hunt has said there “were mistakes” in last month’s government mini-budget, and pointed out some taxes may have to rise and others might not fall as much as planned.

He added it was an error to “fly blind” by not accompanying the “fiscal event” with an economic forecast by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), which many argue sent the financial markets into turmoil.

The BoE is due to announce its next decision on interest rates, which will impact household mortgages, on 3 November and many investors think it will either raise them from their current level of 2.25% to 3% or possibly 3.25%, both of which would be much bigger moves than usual.

Mr Bailey said: “We will not hesitate to raise interest rates to meet the inflation target.

“And, as things stand today, my best guess is that inflationary pressures will require a stronger response than we
perhaps thought in August.”

The bank previously predicted the rate of inflation would peak at 11% in October, while its goal was 2%.

Mr Bailey said the bank would assess the impact of the government’s energy support scheme and the 31 October budget statement of Mr Hunt, who took up the role on Friday after Kwasi Kwarteng was sacked following the economic chaos fuelled by his unfunded tax cut plans.

He added: “The MPC (Monetary Policy Committee) will respond to all this news at its next meeting in just under three weeks from now.

“This is the correct sequence in my view. We will know the full scope of fiscal policy by then.”

Jeremy Hunt and Andrew Bailey. Pic: HM Treasury
Image:
Andrew Bailey says there is a ‘meeting of minds’ with the new chancellor. Pic: HM Treasury

In a further major U-turn on Friday, Prime Minister Liz Truss scrapped a freeze in corporation tax and said she would instead allow it to rise from April, as planned by Boris Johnson’s government.

The government had already rowed back on ditching the top 45p tax rate for the highest earners in the face of a Tory backlash.

Ms Truss also said spending would increase by less than planned.

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Mr Bailey said: “I can tell you that I spoke to Jeremy Hunt, the new chancellor, yesterday (Friday).

“I can tell you that there was a very clear and immediate meeting of minds between us about the importance of fiscal sustainability and the importance of taking measures to do that.

“Jeremy is now working on what will be the fiscal statement. It’s not for me and it’s not appropriate for me to constrain the choices he makes.

“But a very clear message I would give, and it’s a clear message for everybody, including a clear message for markets.

“I can tell you there is a very clear and immediate meeting of minds on the importance of stability and sustainability.”

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‘It was a mistake to fly blind’

Mr Bailey also indicated his concerns over the direction taken by the former chancellor, pointing to a statement he issued in the wake of the mini-budget.

He said: “I felt I had to. It’s not something I make a habit of doing but given the situation.

“I also don’t make a habit of commenting on fiscal policy as a rule, because that’s not my job.

“But I made two points on fiscal policy… which are of clear relevance to the central bank.

“One was to emphasise the importance of sustainability of fiscal policy and the second, which was part of that, was to emphasise the need to have the Office for Budget Responsibility involved – that flying blind is not the way to achieving sustainability.”

Mr Bailey said the bank was able to operate monetary policy – chiefly interest rates – to manage the economy and also make financial stability interventions to address issues such as the recent surge in British government bond yields that threatened some pension funds.

The BoE ended its emergency bond-buying on Friday.

“In these difficult times, we need to be very clear on this framework of intervention,” Mr Bailey said.

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