A LIVELY discussion led to members of the Shadow MPC surprisingly voting for a small rise in interest rates, with only one dissenting voice.

The MPC 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.

Chair of the committee and finance director at Darlington Building Society, Christopher White said: “The Building Society has a large number of individuals, particularly pensioners, who rely on savings income and we have had a really low savings market for a long time and if there is an opportunity for a potential increase as we are talking about it would really benefit those people.”

Chris McDonald, CEO of the Materials Processing Institute, said: “I expected I would be walking into the room today as the only person minded for a rise in interest rates. There is an underlying long-term issue and I think that it’s important that the Bank gets us back to a place where there is flexibility in interest rates and that means we need to seek every opportunity to try and return interest rates to a reasonable level.”

Graham Robb, senior partner at Recognition PR, said: “I came into the room today expecting to be on the fence, but Paul and Chris are moving me towards a rise.”

Gary Ellis, partner at Clive Owen LLP, said: “I vote for a hold in interest rates, I’m conscious that I would like local clients to invest in their projects.”

Paul Gibson of Active Chartered Financial Planners said: “Private client work is probably a little more stable, we’ve gone through a huge growth phase, and you’ve got some clients that are just sick of low interest rates, waiting for Brexit, waiting for markets and they’re just now pushing the button and making those longer-term investment decisions versus those that still have cash but still want to wait to see what the short-term of Brexit is going to be.”