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News - 14 January 2006
David Frost, BCC

Business group calls for drop in interest rates

The British Chambers of Commerce has expressed disappointment at the Bank of England’s failure to reduce interests rates this month. Businesses feel that an opportunity to nip the current economic slide in the bud has been missed.

Commenting on the Bank of England’s interest rates decision, David Frost, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said, “The decision by the MPC to leave interest rates unchanged at 4.50% was widely expected by the financial markets. British business is disappointed that the MPC felt unable to take firm action to counter the downward pressures on the economy. We understand that the MPC faces major uncertainties. But we reiterate that waiting too long before taking corrective action could be dangerous, and could cause long-term damage.

"GDP rose only 0.4% in Q3 2005, the fifth successive quarter of below-trend growth. Year-on-year Q3 growth was a full percentage point below trend. For 2005 as a whole, UK GDP growth is widely expected to average 1.6-1.7%, the lowest increase since 1992. Manufacturing remains under pressure and total industrial output fell in Q3. The claimant count measure of unemployment has risen in each of the last ten months, and is now more than 88,000 higher than in January. On the LFS measure, unemployment rose 72,000 in the three months to October.

"Inflationary pressures are easing, and the labour market is weakening. CPI inflation fell more sharply than expected in November, to 2.1%, and there is a good chance that it will be down to 2% or less before long. The energy-related upsurge in CPI inflation seen last autumn is now unwinding, and wage inflation has also slowed. The case for a small cut in interest rates has strengthened, and we strongly urge the MPC to act without undue delay."

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