The Bank of England raised the base rate to 1% today (Thursday 5 May) in an effort to combat skyrocketing inflation.
The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) at the Bank voted for a 0.25 percentage point rise, bringing the interest rate to the highest it’s been since February 2009.
This rise is part of a steady climb over the past five months. The rate was at a historic low of 0.1% in December 2021, and it’s now risen four times since then.
Banks and building societies use the base rate to inform the rates they offer to customers. So rises have previously led to increases in savings interest rates and mortgage interest rates. But neither of these things are guaranteed.
Here, Which? takes a look at what this historic rate increase could mean for you.
The Bank of England sets the base rate – the rate at which it lends to institutions – as part of its efforts to keep inflation at 2%.
With gas and electricity prices reaching record highs, inflation is currently at 7% – more than three times the Bank’s target.
In its announcement, the Bank said it expects inflation to reach 10% later this year, but that it will fall next year and come close to the 2% target in around two years.
The Bank signalled that it may need to increase interest rates further in the coming months, depending on what happens to the economy.
When the Bank of England lends money to commercial banks, the base rate determines how much they need to pay back.
If the base rate is higher, that means banks are being charged more to borrow – and they usually pass these higher costs onto customers through interest rates on their products.
That’s why a higher base rate can make mortgages and loans more expensive, but could also lead to savings accounts paying more in interest. However, it’s not always that straightforward.
This will depend on what type of mortgage you have.
When the time comes to remortgage, you may see the impact reflected in the available deals, which may be more expensive than what you were paying before.
Instead, you’ll have to wait and see how your lender responds to the base rate rise. They may well increase your rate, but it’s up to them.
You’ll end up on your lender’s SVR if your fixed-rate mortgage comes to an end and you don’t remortgage.
If you’re on an SVR mortgage, you might want to consider switching to a fixed deal as you're likely to find more competitive rates. You'll also be protected from any future rate rises for the duration of the deal.
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If your mortgage rate increases and you’re having trouble paying it, contact your lender to see what help they have available. You may have received an email outlining these measures from your bank already.
In theory, a base rate rise could lead to higher interest rates on savings accounts. This would be a boon for savers, who have been faced with a drought of high-interest savings options for years.
The good news is that rates have been on the up following the recent base rate rises, but unfortunately there's no guarantee that your provider will pass on the latest increase - at least not immediately.
Now's a good time to check what deals are available elsewhere and see if you can take advantage of increased competition in the market.