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United Kingdom Monetary Policy March 2023

United Kingdom: BoE hikes by 25 basis points in March

On 23 March, the Bank of England (BoE) increased the bank rate 4.00% to 4.25%, marking the eleventh consecutive rate hike. While seven out of nine members of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) favored hiking, two voted to keep the rate unchanged.

The main driver of the decision was the desire to tame inflation, which has been in double digits for six consecutive months and beat BoE expectations in February. The BoE also commented that the labor market is tight, and that the Spring Budget would likely boost GDP growth and household incomes, thus necessitating a restrictive monetary stance. The Bank judged the UK financial system to be robust; as such, recent banking turmoil in the U.S. and Europe was not considered a reason to pause hikes.

In its communiqué, the MPC reiterated that further monetary tightening would be required if there was evidence of more persistent inflationary pressures. A small majority of our panelists see the Bank on hold at upcoming meetings, although several still see 25–50 basis points of further hikes. The Consensus is for the Bank Rate to end the year around its current level.

Analysts at the ING are at the dovish end of our panel:

“The BoE has kept its options open this month amid financial market turmoil. But assuming the tentatively encouraging trends we’ve seen in price setting and wage growth numbers continue, we’d expect a pause in May.”

The next monetary policy decision will be announced on the 11 May.

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