HOPES grew for a fall in the cost of borrowing early next year after it emerged that a member of the Bank of England's rate-setting panel voted for a reduction this month.

Stephen Nickell broke ranks with colleagues on the monetary policy committee (MPC) to vote in favour of a quarter-point cut in interest rates to 4.25 per cent.

But his argument that inflation was likely to miss the bank's two per cent target because of factors including subdued wage growth and trade were not shared by the other eight MPC members.

Minutes from the December meeting show that the majority thought it was too soon to be confident that the cost of crude oil had peaked or about the direction of gas prices in the month ahead.

The 8-1 decision is the first time that there has been any dissent on the MPC over rates since the bank voted to lower borrowing costs to 4.5 per cent in August.