INTEREST rates should remain steady to provide stability going into the new year, an organisation has said.

The North-East Shadow Monetary Policy Committee has called on the Bank of England to hold rates at 0.5 per cent, following a rise in November.

A partnership between The Northern Echo, the North East England Chamber of Commerce and Darlington Building Society, the committee assesses the region’s economy and allows speakers from various sectors to argue their case for a shift, or hold, in the rate.

Christopher White, committee chairman and finance director at Darlington Building Society, said: “It is important now to carefully observe whether the rise has any impact on the economy and cost of living.

“Hopefully in 2018, we will be able to observe the change has been manageable and further rate increases will be made at this point.”

Nicola Neilson, of Darlingtonbased Latimer Hinks Solicitors, said: “There appears to be a lack of wage growth.

“I can’t see that the Bank will want to further increase interest rates while that is the case.

“I suspect that any further increase will be delayed until the spring.”

Ross Smith, Chamber director of policy, said: “I think the decision to raise interest rates last month was justified.

"The Bank needs to build up some ammunition it can deploy if we see a downturn, especially with uncertainties over Brexit on the horizon.

"However, this needs to be done gradually, avoiding any nasty surprises for businesses, so the Bank should pause before considering another rise.”

But Ajay Jagota, of KIS Group, called for a further rise.

He added: “I would advocate another 0.25 per cent increase to retain the sentiment that rates will continue to rise and combat inflationary pressures.”

However, David Coates, managing director of Newsquest North-East and Yorkshire, the publisher of The Northern Echo, added: “My vote would be to hold rates until we get into the new year.

“That will help to see how the economy has fared over the festive period.”

Paul Gibson, of Active Chartered Financial Planners, said: "It is looking like we may be moving towards progress on the Brexit bill and Sterling has marginally crept upwards.

"This makes the overseas earnings of UK companies worth less, so the UK stock market has fallen back marginally, taking a healthy “breather”.

"Another interest rate rise at this stage would compound the rise in Sterling and would likely cause investment values to fall."

Michael Lyons, head of finance and IT at Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies, said: “For now, I would recommend they remain as is following the recent change. 

"Having gone so long at so low I do not think now is the time to push an aggressive continuous increase. 

"We have not had enough time to assess the impact of the recent rise."

Chris McDonald, of the Materials Processing Institute, said: “We need to maintain rates until the most recent rise has bedded in the economy, though future rises are to be anticipated.”

Jonathan Willett, director of Stockton-based Henderson Insurance Brokers, said: “Businesses need to have confidence to invest, which will boost employment and contribute to the wider economy, so a hold is necessary to continue to support enterprise.”

Nigel Mills, chairman of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum, said: “There is a need for stability in the economy so I vote to keep rates on hold with no additional Quantitative Easing.

"There is still a lot of ground to catch up on and the concerns surrounding the Brexit talks and what the future holds for the country can quickly erode that confidence.”

Graham Robb, senior partner at Recognition PR, added: “The recent interest rate rise was the correct decision but many financial organisations have been slow to pass it on meaning its effect will not give the economy the boost it needs for several months. 

"The rate should be reviewed in the new year.”