UPDATE 22.09.2022: Since publishing the below article, the Bank of England has increased the base interest rate for the sixth time since December 2021, by a further 0.5% to 2.25%.
The Bank of England has raised interest rates for the sixth time since December 2021 to 2.25% – the highest level in 13 years – but what does this mean for UK businesses? And is there anything they can do to minimise the financial impact on their operation?
Who makes the decision to increase interest rates?
The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meets eight times a year (roughly every six weeks) for its nine members to discuss whether to hold the base rate or move it up or down – and by how much. The MPC considers factors such as the rate of inflation, economic growth and the UK employment rate. Each member then has a vote, with the majority determining the outcome.
For several years before the pandemic hit in March 2020, the base rate largely remained at the 0.5% mark. At the start of the pandemic, it was reduced from 0.75% to 0.1%. The Bank Rate was raised from 0.1% to 0.25% in December 2021, increased again to 0.5% in February 2022, again to 0.75% in March 2022, 1% in May 2022, 1.25% in June 2022, 1.75% in August 2022 and most recently, 2.25% in September.
The latest meeting of the committee was in early September 2022, with its rate decision of 2.25% announced on the 22nd.
The rising base rate will make borrowing more expensive for individuals, families, and businesses who are already battling with increasing energy costs, but unfortunately it seems that the cost of living crisis isn’t going away any time soon. In fact, many experts predict that interest rates will continue rising by end of 2022.
Why has the Bank of England increased interest rates?
Prices have risen sharply in the UK in recent months, and are much higher than a year ago. The speed of that increase is called the rate of inflation. The Bank of England uses interest rate increases as a tool to curb rising inflation. The logic behind this is that if the cost of borrowing increases, people and businesses will be less willing to take out loans for spending purposes, which would decrease demand and reduce prices.
The Bank of England website states:
Why has inflation increased in the UK?
There are several factors that have contributed to rising inflation in 2021.
Firstly, after Covid restrictions eased, economies around the world opened up and people naturally started buying again, but the sellers of many of these things had problems meeting the demand. This caused prices to rise during 2021, particularly for goods that were imported from abroad.
In addition to this, there was a very steep rise in the price of oil and gas. In February 2022, the Bank of England predicted inflation would go up to 7%. Since then, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine led to further increases in the price of energy and food.
On top of all this, it is expected that the price cap on energy will rise again in October 2022.
What does all this mean for UK businesses?
The cost of operating is likely to increase for UK businesses due to rising energy costs, but if you have any financial agreements that are subject to variable interest rates such as loans, overdrafts, or commercial mortgages, you also may find that the cost of your repayments increases due to inflation.
However, if your agreements are subject to a fixed rate you won’t see any change until the end of your fixed period.
How can UK businesses minimise the impact of rising interest rates?
Lock in lower interest rates while you can
If you have been thinking about expanding your operation, investing in new assets, taking out a loan, or you have development projects kept on the backburner due to Covid, delaying action any longer could mean that you miss the chance to lock in lower interest rates.
It is highly likely that inflation, and therefore variable interest rates, are going to continue to increase over the coming weeks and months, but there is still time to secure finance agreements at a fixed lower rate with a broker like Bluestone Leasing.
This is because, although the Bank of England has increased their rate, lenders will take weeks or even months to adjust their rates to reflect this. Essentially, the sooner you secure your finance, the lower your interest rates are likely to be. The interest rates will be fixed until the end of your agreement and you may also be able to access tax advantages.
Consider refinancing recent purchases
Realistically operating costs are only going to increase in the coming months and cash will become even more precious to your business. Spreading the cost of your purchases over time via a finance agreement enables you to keep more cash in your business, boosting liquidity and cashflow. If you have recently purchased assets with cash, you might want to consider refinancing the assets. This will unlock the cash tied up in the assets so you can put it to better use in your business.
Secure your finance rates today
Bluestone Leasing can arrange a variety of bespoke finance solutions to help you manage your business’ finances over the challenging months ahead, including.
- Finance leases
- Cashflow loan
- VAT loans
- Corporation tax loans
- PI insurance loans
- Self-assessment loans
- Hire Purchase agreements
- Invoice finance facilities
- Commercial mortgages
- Vehicle finance (personal or commercial).
To request a call back from one of our experienced finance professionals, send us an enquiry using the form below or email firstname.lastname@example.org.