Rising inflation raises concerns over interest rates
The UK Consumer Price Index annual rate of inflation rose to 4.5% in April 2011, its highest level since October 2008, according to figures released today. This has led to speculation that the Bank of England may raise interest rates in the coming months, causing more problems for struggling businesses.
A survey carried out by R3 found that many business owners are predicting that any rise in interest rates will have a serious impact on their business, with 7% of small business owners believing that they are likely to become insolvent if interest rates rise to between 2% and 3.5%. If rates climb to between 4% and 5%, the number of businesses at risk increases to 18%. The base rate was 5% in 2007.
The Office for National Statistics reported that inflation rose to 4.4% in February 2011, followed by a slight fall to 4% in March before increasing to 4.5% in April, way above the Bank of England’s target of 2%, which is likely to put pressure on the Monetary Policy Committee to increase rates.
Many commentators have suggested that historically low interest rates have helped to keep the number of business failures artificially low in recent months as debt interest payments are tied to the base rate for many businesses. However any increase in the cost of borrowing is likely to have an adverse effect on cash flow and may be the last straw for many ailing businesses.
Consumers will also feel the impact of any rise in interest rates as the cost of mortgages increases. An increase of two percentage points, whilst still low in historic terms, would add £166 per month to the cost of a £100,000 mortgage.
Rising prices put additional pressure on businesses and individuals, and increasing costs are likely to damage any fragile signs of recovery, adding to the finacial problems of many.
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