Interest rates plunge in disaster for savers: Lowest level in history – coronavirus latest | Personal Finance | Finance

Interest rates have been cut, taking them lower than the 0.75 percent they were already at, in a move intended to boost consumer spending. The Bank of England announced the decision today, which has been made in an effort to tackle the fallout of the coronavirus outbreak on the economy.

Yesterday, Public Health England confirmed that as of 9am on March 10, 2020, 373 people have tested positive for coronoavirus in the UK.

Of these, six patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 have died.

The Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee said: “Although the magnitude of the economic shock from Covid-19 is highly uncertain, activity is likely to weaken materially in the United Kingdom over the coming months.

“Temporary, but significant, disruptions to supply chains and weaker activity could challenge cash flows and increase demand for short-term credit from households and for working capital from companies.

“Such issues are likely to be most acute for smaller businesses. This economic shock will affect both demand and supply in the economy.”

Adrian Lowcock, head of personal investing at investment platform Willis Owen, said: “This is a decisive move, bringing the rate back its record low level of 0.25% last seen at the depths of the financial crisis. This clearly shows that the Bank of England and Government are very concerned over the impact the coronavirus will have on the UK economy.

“The idea is that lower interest rates should encourage spending as it costs less to borrow, while the Bank has also said it will relax capital rules for businesses, mimicking moves from other central banks including the Federal Reserve.

“However, there are a number of reasons why this is unlikely to have much impact on consumer spending. With rates already low the difference is minimal and most mortgages are fixed rate so are not affected.

“More importantly, the coronavirus has initially hit supply chains and interest rate cuts will not change that. Likewise demand is being impacted because people are not going out and spending as much because they can’t, not because they don’t have enough money.

“If [you’re a] saver or looking to get an annuity then the cut is bad news. If you are on a variable mortgage then it is good news. The real beneficiary could be the government as the cost of borrowing is virtually free.”

Following the announcement, Andrew Hagger of Moneycomms commented on the Bank of England decision to cut base rate by 0.50 percent.

“The question is – will this move really help consumers? – many are on fixed rate mortgages so won’t feel any financial benefit.

“If your credit card provider is one that links your rate to base rate you will see cheaper borrowing costs but the impact will be minimal – 0.5 percent less on a £2000 credit card balance equates to just £10 savings in interest in a year – less than a pound a month.

“It’s those with overdrafts that could do with some help – but with most banks charging around 40 percent interest, a 0.5 percent cut isn’t going to make any meaningful difference to peoples finances.

Richard Lim, CEO at Retail Economics, said: “The shock to demand, output and disruption to supply chains is likely to be significant and the Bank of England has taken action to try to ensure that the blow to economic activity is shallow and short-lived.

“Much like the financial crisis, a coordinated global policy response across governments and central banks will be needed to limit the damage.

“The chancellor’s priority in the budget today is to protect jobs and businesses. We have two million low paid workers in the economy, almost five million in the gig economy, thousands of self-employed people and many on zero-hour contracts.

“Changing the rules on sick pay, the initial burden of which falls on companies is essential amongst other measures to support business and access to credit.”

Following the move, Alex Maddox, Capital Markets & Digital Director, Kensington Mortgages, commented on the decision, and explained what it could mean for some people with mortgages.

He said: “The market was predicting a 0.5 percent rate cut with a 60 percent probability so this is not a surprise.

“It is likely that this is just one of many actions that government and the Bank of England take to provide support to the economy. The budget later today may also contain some announcements.

“For customers with tracker mortgages this rate change will be welcome and reduce their monthly payments very quickly. Fixed rates will not drop as quickly though, as lender’s funding costs may still stay high even after this rate cut.”

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