THE North East Shadow Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) voted to hold interest rates this month, but two members felt now was the right time for a raise and others believe an increase is inevitable in the near future.

The MPC is a partnership between The Northern Echo and Clive Owen LLP, 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.

Nicola Bellerby, partner at Clive Owen LLP, said: “Something new that has been happening, is clients struggling to get materials and parts for what they sell, which they put down to coronavirus rather than Brexit. It’s something that I’ve never really come across in the past. My vote is to keep rates and QE at same level.”

David Coates, managing director of Newsquest North East, said: “I am a bit worried about inflation I have to admit. But if you look at the advertising market in general, when the pandemic first hit programmatic and digital advertising went through the floor, with many customers cutting their budgets.

“But it has come back very strongly, and we have seen a real improvement in the yield we are achieving from advertising sales, both from a print and digital perspective. I believe we should have a slowing down of QE, and interest rates to a rate of 0.25 per cent”

Chris McDonald, chief executive of Materials Processing Institute, said: “Inflation is a big concern for people, house price inflation is also really racing away with younger people struggling to save money for a house deposit. I vote to keep interest rates at 0.1 per cent, however a slowing down of QE should take place”

Ajay Jagota, chief executive of KIS Group, said: “One of the concerns that I have is variants (Covid), I think it would be premature to think that we are out of this already and we have to get winter out of the way first before making any financial decisions and allow inflation, which we have all agreed is mainly down to raw materials and other things that have built up over the pandemic. Let those ease out and not many any major moves other than easing off on the QE.”

Chris White, financial director of Darlington Building Society, said: “Currently the argument for interest rates increasing is at the strongest it’s been for a very long time. For me I think we should keep our powder a little dry in that area for the meantime. However, maybe the MPC should take more steps in respect to QE.”

Catriona Lingwood, chief executive of Constructing Excellence said: “I think it is more the SME market that is struggling with material shortages, rather than the major developers who can afford to forward buy. SME’s who order day to day from builders’ merchants have seen a 15 per cent increase in prices, which is quite considerable. My vote, interest rates to remain the same”

Paul Gibson, director and chartered financial planner at Active Chartered Financial Planners, said: “We are in a difficult position at the moment where we have to pump enough money in to stave off deflation but also not too much money in that inflation gets out of control. My personal view is that the first step is to gently apply the breaks on QE while keeping interest rates at the same level for the time being”

James Robson, chairman of Entrepreneurs Forum said: “One of the firms I am involved with on an almost day to day basis is a steel fabrication business.

“They have had a pretty horrid time these last 18 months, because raw steel prices have risen by about 100 per cent over the past six months, so having to go back to their clients on a regular basis to negotiate a price increase has been so time consuming for the management, so any other plans for expansion have had to be put on the back burner. My vote – restricting QE and interest rates to go up to 0.25 per cent.”