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Should interest rates have been increased today?

The Bank of England decided at lunchtime today to leave interest rates where they are for another month.

Reaction was swift and by mid-afternoon my in-box was full of press releases from interested parties. The content of these releases varied greatly. Half of the senders praised the Bank of England for leaving rates unchanged, while the other half suggested that rates either need to rise to help savers or come down to stop thousands of borrowers getting into further debt that they won’t be able to claw their way out of.

So which group is correct? Are interest rates at the right level? And has anyone actually benefitted from last month’s interest rate rise?

If you’re a saver you might find that you bank, building society or credit union has increased the rate of interest that you receive for your savings. But it’s unlikely to be much of a rise, and it’s unlikely to take the rate of interest you receive for your savings high enough that you’ll see a real increase in their value year on year given the current rate of inflation.

That makes it all the more crucial that you look around to make sure that your savings are growing as fast as they can, and that your money is in the account with the highest rate of interest that you can find. There are still far too many savers leaving far too much money in accounts that pay very little, and sometimes no, interest, on their money. If that’s you then do something about it.

If you’re a borrower then you might not be quite so happy with the Bank’s decision last month. It will almost certainly lead to higher mortgages and higher personal loans, and that will mean that almost everything that you buy on credit will cost more. If you can, make sure that your mortgage is as competitive as it can be and make sure that the interest rate you pay on your credit card is as low as possible.

Having said that, interest rates are still relatively low and mortgages and other borrowings are almost as cheap as they have ever been. Maybe it’e time to think more about the needs of savers and do something to rates that will give them a long-waited-for boost.

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It looks as if the Financial conduct Authority might be about to take action to help so-called 'mortgage prisoners', borrowers who have loans with companies that are no longer trading.
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