MPC holding out for FLS

Sarah Davidson

August 15, 2012

All nine members of the MPC voted to keep rates at 0.5% and hold quantitative easing (QE) at £375bn at August meeting – saying that further QE might be necessary but the effects of the FLS should be monitored first.

In July, the MPC had voted by 7-2 to increase the QE programme by £50bn.

The FLS will see the Bank of England offer some lenders low-cost funds linked to the amount of SME and mortgage lending they do.

The Bank said it is “encouraging that a number of banks had decided to cut rates on some mortgage and small-business loans”.

The minutes said: “For most members, the decision this month was relatively straightforward. Over the coming months, the committee could take stock of the impact of the FLS and the implications this had for other potential policy options.

“For some members, the decision was nevertheless more finely balanced, since a good case could be made at this meeting for more asset purchases.”

David Brown, commercial director of LSL Property Services, said: “The MPC were always unlikely to boost the asset purchase programme so soon after the launch of the Funding for Lending Scheme, but several members were still tempted by it.

“While more QE seems to be the fallback position by the MPC to get the economy moving, it comes at a cost of pushing up the likelihood of increased inflation. Would-be buyers are already struggling to save the substantial deposits lenders require for affordable rates, with rising rental costs taking their toll.

“Even higher rates of inflation would further undermine their ability to save for a deposit. A healthy housing market is the cornerstone of a healthy economy, and it is crucial that the Funding for Lending Scheme proves to be a success at unlocking the lower echelons of the market, making house purchase a more achievable goal for many.”

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