THE North-East Shadow Monetary Policy Committee has voted by seven to one for an increase in interest rates.

This is the first time in a number of years that the Shadow MPC has voted to increase rates.

Vigorous discussions were held about the size of the increase, with the majority opting for 0.25 per cent, although some members pushed for 0.5 per cent or two consecutive 0.25 per cent rises.

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The MPC, which was held at Clive Owen & Co, in Durham, is a partnership between The Northern Echo, the North East England Chamber of Commerce and Darlington Building Society, which considers the state of the region’s economy and gives experts from a variety of sectors the opportunity to argue their case for a shift, or hold, in the rate.

The committee was chaired by Christopher White, of Darlington Building Society, and each member gave an overview of their own sector before voting.

Paul Gibson, of Active Chartered Financial Planners, said: “If we do get an interest rate rise I think it could marginally help savers.

"But, we are still in an environment where people can make a minimal investment and get quite a large return.”

Chris McDonald, of the Materials Processing Institute, said: “We are seeing a positive effect of the current value of the pound in terms of exports.

"On a macro level there are concerns that inflation is up at the three per cent level, wage increases are not keeping pace with that so there is an overall general erosion of standards of living, and productivity is running stubbornly low.”

Graham Robb, vice-chairman of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum, said: “I wasn’t surprised to see inflation had crept up.

"I have been one of the people in this group who said the Bank of England missed the boat when it could have increased interest rates last year.”

Catrina Lingwood, of Constructing Excellence, who was the dissenting voice in voting against a rise, said: “We’re very keen to see what is going to be in the Autumn Budget and the amount of money that is going to be put into infrastructure.

"Things are still very much up and down depending on where you are working in the market.”

Nicola Neilson, of Latimer Hinks Solicitors, said: “On the agricultural side there is still a lot of movement.

"There is plenty of money out there, banks are lending in the agricultural sector, but I think the whole Brexit thing is causing a bit of a stir there.”

David Coates, managing director of Newsquest North-East and Yorkshire, which publishes The Northern Echo, said: “What we don’t want are any shocks to the system, so it’s kind of steady as she goes.”

Ajay Jakota, of KIS Group, commented on the property sector, saying: “Different regions have different needs.

"If you go to the south, there is a supply issue.

"In the north, there is some concern that there might be a demand issue.

"That might be confidence of the consumers, the ability to get finance, there might be a whole host of issues.”