THERE was a unanimous vote to hold interest rates at the current level at this month’s North East Shadow Monetary Policy Committee (MPC).

Although the idea of a negative interest rate as in the EU was discussed there was no appetite from members to go down this route.

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.

Daniel Williams, solicitor, trust and estate practitioner (TEP) at Latimer Hinks Solicitors, said: “So far as my comments, in short, due to the complete and almost unprecedented political uncertainty at the moment what with an impending election, I vote to keep rates as they are.”

Rachel Anderson, assistant director of policy at the North East Chamber of Trade, said: “Domestically our members have reasonable order books and we are seeing some investment, particularly in the workforce, less in plant and machinery. The real fly in the ointment is exports, particularly forward orders for the next quarter – as we are seeing a drop not seen since 2009 and the height of the recession.”

Jonathan Willett, a director of Henderson Insurance Brokers, said: “It is a difficult market. Insurers aren’t naturally making the returns they once were from investments because of the interest rate and various investments, so they are effectively looking to increase rates marginally in some cases and quite large increases in others.”

Paul Gibson, a director of Active financial planners, said: “There has been a slow-down in people investing money, the main reason being the continuing uncertainty and until there is some sort of certainty moving forward, people are still sitting back in cash attracting very low rates of interest with inflation effectively eating into their capital.”

James Robson, chairman of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum, said: “From an entrepreneurs’ point of view, most people tend to be fairly optimistic and bullish but that is their nature. The particularly strong areas are fintech and medtech sectors which both our LEPs are pushing hard as areas where the North-East is going to make an impact.”

Gary Ellis, a partner with Clive Owen, said: “There is a certain client sector that seems to be doing better than others whilst there is a lot of uncertainty and hesitation from some clients. From our clients’ point of view, we are seeing a little bit of cost pressure at direct cost level, reflected by an increase in raw materials as a result of the drop in currencies.”

Christopher White, finance director of Darlington Building Society, said: “There were an awful lot of people pausing their personal investments and the purchasing of property around the March Brexit deadline. We have not seen such a strong reaction this time around. Perhaps people are more dubious as to whether something will happen.”