Homeowners should prepare for interest rates of around 5 per cent, Bank of England executive director of markets Paul Fisher has warned.
In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Fisher, who is also a member of the rate setting Monetary Policy Committee, says that central bank policymakers would like to raise rates as much as tenfold from the historic low as soon as possible.
Earlier this month the Bank of England held base rates at 0.5 per cent for the 21st month in a row. The latest minutes showed a three way split on how to deal with elevated inflation, with a rise in rates and additional quantitative easing both touted.
Fisher says: “We hope people are aware that interest rates at some point will go up again and that they will head back to a normalised position,
“What we need to do is to trigger the mindset in people that that’s where rates will eventually go back to.”
Fisher’s comments come after a Bank research paper found that more than seven million people are at risk of rate rises. Two thirds of mortgage borrowers are currently on variable rates, compared with half in a normal year. It also found that if rates were held at 5 per cent on current wages, households would be spending more of their disposable income on debt interest than at any time in the past 20 years.
Fisher says there is no set timetable for the rate rises as any decision “will be conditioned on economic growth and prospects”.
He says: “We would put rates up, see what the effect is and then judge how quickly to go,” he said. “I don’t think a change of 25 or even 50 basis points is going to trigger a recession.
“Obviously the first time we raise base rates that will be a big signal to people. But you’d like to think independent financial advisers and others will be bringing this home to people when they are arranging their mortgages and other borrowings.
“We have to bear in mind savers have being doing particularly badly while borrowers have been benefiting. We can’t favour one group over another.”