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Interest rates stay at 0.5% despite speculation over rise

Interest rates have been at 0.5% despite speculation that some rate-setters on the Bank's nine-member monetary policy committee (MPC) might have voted for a hike. But an overall vote in favour would have surprised markets, with analysts focusing instead on the prospect of a rise towards the end of this year or early in the next.

The Bank of England. Credit: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire/Press Association Images

In the second three months of the year gross domestic product (GDP) figures last month showed the UK had finally emerged from its worst downturn since the Second World War as output surpassed its pre-recession peak in early 2008.

Since then, survey data indicating strong growth in the dominant services sector has added to pressure for a rate rise - though a weaker performance for Britain's beleaguered manufacturers has led to calls for caution.

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Interest rates may 'return to pre-crisis' levels in a decade

UK borrowers should expect interest rates to return to their pre-recession levels of around 5 percent within a decade, according to the outgoing Bank of England deputy governor for monetary policy.

Sir Charlie Bean who leaves his job tomorrow. Credit: PA

Sir Charlie Bean who leaves his job tomorrow, said market expectations that the first increase in interest rates would come at the turn of the year were "reasonable".

He told Sky News: "The market has rates going up to 2.5% over next three years. That seems like a broadly sensible judgment."

Sir Charlie admitted that in the run-up to the crash, economists were "not sufficiently cognisant of the risks building up in the financial system" but insisted the economy is far more resilient than when he arrived at the central bank in 2000.

Borrowing costs 'may return to pre-recession levels'

Interest rates are likely to hit 5% within a decade, according to the outgoing Bank of England deputy governor for monetary policy. Sir Charlie Bean said it would be "reasonable" to expect borrowing costs to return to pre-recession levels in the long term - between five to 10 years.

Outgoing Bank of England deputy governor for monetary policy Sir Charlie Bean Credit: PA

Homeowners have enjoyed a historically low 0.5% base rate for five years but the level has caused misery for savers. Sir Charlie told Sky News: "It might be reasonable to think that in that long term you would go back to 5% but it's probably quite a long way down the road."

Earlier this week, Bank of England governor Mark Carney urged people to focus on the "big picture" rather than obsessing about when interest rates will start to rise.

It followed accusations that he had been behaving like an "unreliable boyfriend" by hinting at a rise this year, before appearing to back-pedal.

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Economist: House prices likely to continue rising

House prices are likely to continue rising "solidly" over the next few months, according to a leading economist.

House prices rose by 8.0% in the 12 months to March to reach £252,000 on average, ONS figures show. Credit: PA

Dr Howard Archer, chief UK and European economist for IHS Global Insight, said: "Housing market activity is likely to be supported by substantially improved consumer confidence, markedly rising employment, improving earnings growth and extended low mortgage interest rates."

The rise is also currently being fuelled by the Help to Buy initiatives and a short supply of homes in some areas, he added.

House prices rise 17% in London in a year

Annual house price rises in England are being driven by a 17% year-on-year increase in London, where the average house price has reached £459,000, according to the Office for National Statistics.

"House prices are increasing strongly across most parts of the UK, with prices in London again showing the highest growth," it said in a report.

It also recorded a 6.6% rise in the East and a 6.1% increase in prices in the South East.

More: David Cameron would consider changes to Help to Buy scheme

PM: I would consider changes to Help to Buy scheme

David Cameron said he would consider changes to the Government's Help to Buy mortgage scheme if advised to do so by the Bank of England.

The Prime Minister says he would consider changes to the 'Help to Buy' scheme if advised by the Bank of England. Credit: PA

When asked on Radio 4's Today show if the Government would think about changing the mortgage guarantee scheme to reduce its upper borrowing limit, the Prime Minister replied: "Of course. We will consider any changes that are proposed by Mark Carney."

The Bank of England's Governor said at the weekend that the bank is looking at new measures to control mortgage lending amid a shortage of home building.

The Help to Buy mortgage scheme lets people buy property worth up to £600,000 with deposits as a low as 5%.

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