Cost of living latest: Some good financial news for UK - but there's a question Bank of England dearly hopes it won't have to answer (2023)

Key points
  • Bank of England raises interest rate 0.25 percentage points to 4.25%
  • Bank no longer expects recession
  • Some unexpected good news - but there's a question Bank dearly hopes it won't have to answer | Ed Conway analysis
  • What support is there for mortgage borrowers after this rise?
  • Interest rates explained
  • What does rate rise actually mean? A practical example...
  • Shadowy core inflation a worry for Bank
  • More than a million universal credit payments cut over past year
  • Money-saving tips from the Budgeting Mum: Could bi-weekly shopping cut your food bills?
  • Your dilemmas: My energy tariff uses renewable energy - why are my bills still going up?
  • Live reporting by Bhvishya Patel, with social affairs & health reporter Megan Baynes responding to your dilemmas


That's all for today

Thanks for following today's updates and advice on the cost of living crisis.


Why are Britons not been seeing GPs?

A YouGov survey has found that over the last six months, 54% of Britons have had a medical issue they thought was significant enough to warrant a trip to the GP.

However, three in ten Britons who thought they needed a GP but did not see one said it was because they could not get through to their surgery.

An inability to contact their doctors' surgery was the most common reason Britons gave for not seeing their GP when needed, with 31% of those who sometimes didn't make a needed GP visit saying they gave up trying after struggling to get through.

The survey also found one in five Britons who needed a GP but did not see one (21%) said it was because they were unable to get a timely appointment, while 11% could not get one to fit around their working hours.


Was the Bank of England right to hike interest rates?

There has been a lot of reaction throughout the day on the Bank of England's decision to raise interest rates.

Sky News has spoken to economists who share different opinions on the Bank's decision.

Business economist Andrew Sentance described the raise as a "sensible move" and said he could not rule out them increasing the rate to 5% in the future.

He said: "I think it is a very sensible move from the Bank of England because they are being pulled in two different directions.

"One is in terms of very high inflation and the other is the fact that the economy has probably been more robust than people expected."

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He went on to say the Bank of England's responsibility was to move inflation down to 2%.

Asked if interest rates needed to go up further, he said: "I certainly wouldn't rule out them going up towards 5%.

"But I think the MPC has done most of the heavy lifting that they need to do. So they've raised interest rates from nearly zero to four and a quarter percent. And maybe they need to go up to as close as 5%.

"But that's not a major shift from where we are now. So I think the MPC, even though they responded quite slowly, they've got interest rates up to where they probably need to be in the current circumstances."

Meanwhile, former member of the Bank of England's MPC, David Blanchflower, said the hike was "absolutely not" needed.

"What we are going to see here is the MPC made a huge error just like it did in 2008 and you are going to see screeching U-turns," he said.

"This is a horrible error and I'm afraid they do not know what they are doing."

Mr Blanchflower went on to say that you "cannot respond to something that happened in the data yesterday".

"They are forecasting inflation below the target," he added.

"You cannot have a forecast that says you should cut rates and then raise rates. Nobody is going to believe what you say."

He warned the move could mean "no growth in the economy" and warned the UK was "in for a tough time".


FOR TUESDAY! Meal deal calculator: Which sandwich-snack-drink combo gives the best value for money?

Meal deal pioneer Boots still provides the best value for money when it comes to picking which sandwich-snack-drink combo to eat at lunchtime.

Analysis from theMeal Deal Calculator,produced by the online casino Betway, looked at two million possible combinations from a six of the big retailers, including Tesco, Asda and Sainsburys.

The best choice? Boot's coronation chicken triple wrap, Del Monte melon chunks and Vita Coco Natura came out on top with the highest value by percentage figure (215.54%). Costing £3.99 (or £3.60 with an advantage card) it would cost £8.60 to buy the items separately.

Morrison’s meal deals were also found to be among the best value for money as its Chicken & Bacon Sandwich, Chicken Tikka Kebabs and Coca-Cola combination boasted a return on investment of 213%.

The worst return on investment also came from Boots, with their Chicken mayo sandwich, Fruit-tella and a bottle of water costing £2.45 if bought individually - less than the £3.99 meal deal price.

Vix Leyton, consumer expert at Hotukdeals and host of False Economy podcast, said: "Ultimately, value is in the eye of the beholder. If the meal deal price seems like good value for you broadly, the only real decision should be what you'll enjoy the most. One thing to be careful of is the ranges that sit next to the Meal Deal but aren't actually in it. Avoid being stung at the checkout by reading the offer carefully and making sure your lineup is included in the deal."


Why renters are fleeing Great Britain's cities

By Megan Baynes, social affairs & health reporter

Renters are leaving big cities due to rising living costs and a lack of available homes, with 42% now contacting letting agents asking to move out into the countryside, new analysis has found.

London has seen the biggest increase in the proportion of renters looking outside the city compared with a year ago, although it remains one of the lowest for people looking to move overall. Meanwhile, more than half of people (54%) living in Manchester are now looking at living further out.

Average asking rents across Great Britain are up 11% compared with this time last year, and up 12% across 10 major city centres on average.

Edinburgh city centre has seen the largest increase in average asking rents compared with last year (+19%), followed by inner London (+18%) and Manchester city centre (+14%).

How many people are looking to leave the city?
(According to Rightmove data)

Liverpool - 35%

London - 38%

Edinburgh - 38%

Bristol - 45%

Glasgow - 48%

Nottingham - 48%

Leeds - 49%

Birmingham - 49%

Sheffield - 52%

Manchester - 54%

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Amazon workers planning more strikes after 50p pay rise

Amazon workers in the UK are planning further industrial action after the online retailer offered a pay rise of 50p-an-hour for warehouse workers.

Earlier this week, the company raised the minimum starting pay for its employees at its UK operations by up to 50p to between £11 and £12 per hour from April.

The new increase will vary depending on warehouse locations and comes after Amazon last year raised UK hourly wages by 50p to between £10.50 and £11.45 per hour.

Speaking on the pay rise, Amanda Gearing, senior organiser of GMB, the union which represents more than 500 Amazon workers, said: "We're listening to Amazon workers and the message is very clear: this new pay rate is an insult.

"So, in response we will be consulting over the next few days and announcing a new wave of action."

The union had said the Amazon Coventry workers are demanding £15 an hour to cope with a cost of living crisis that has sparked strikes across sectors in Britain over the last several months.

"Over the past seven months, our minimum pay has risen by
10% and by more than 37% since 2018," Amazon said in a

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Will switching to frozen food save you money?

At the end of last year, Tesco boss Ken Murphy revealed that Britons were swapping fresh food for cheaper frozen food to help with rising prices amid the cost of living crisis.

So does switching to frozen foods save you money?

This month, the consumer choice website Which? looked at the data from the big supermarkets - Aldi, Asda, Iceland, Lidl, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Ocado - and examined whether this was the case.

Experts calculated the price per 100g for items and worked out a price range for items.

They found that buying frozen could save customers money for the majority of the items.

Here is a look at some of the fresh and frozen products they compared...

Breaded cod
Fresh: 75p-£1.71
Frozen: 72p-£1.47

Pork sausages
Fresh: 38p-63p
Frozen: 25p-34p

Meat feast pizzas
Fresh: 60p-£1.33
Frozen: 26p-61p

Fresh: 19p-25p
Frozen: 11p-21p

But what about the levels of nutrition in frozen food items?

While fresh food has always been seen as the better option, some experts note that the vitamins in fresh fruit and vegetables can start to deteriorate once they are harvested.

Meanwhile, food which is frozen at peak ripeness is more likely to stay fresher for longer.


Struggle to buy food 'by no means confined to those out of work'

The struggle to afford food has affected a quarter of households where an NHS or social care worker lives, according to a new survey.

Research by the The Food Foundation looked at the findings from an online YouGov survey of10,814 adults across the UK between 31 January and 3 February.

Responses showed that 25% of households in which NHS and social care workers live, 26% ofhouseholds inwhich food sector workers live and 21% of households in which education sector workers live were struggling to afford food.

Anna Taylor, executive director of the charity, said the figures showed that "struggling to afford food is by no means confined to those out of work".

She said: "Many people doing important jobs are also suffering the stress and indignity of not knowing if their pay cheque will allow them to buy the bare essentials."

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Bank of England's Andrew Bailey says he expects inflation to come down 'sharply'

Banks in this country are in a "much stronger position" since the 2008 financial crisis, Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey has said today as he shared his expectation for inflation to come down "sharply".

Speaking to Sky News, Mr Bailey said the Bank had "seen signs" that inflation was peaking but said it was still "far too high".

"We think it's going to come down sharply, really from the early summer onwards, but we haven't seen that happen yet," he said.

"Back at the beginning of February, we were really a bit on a knife-edge as to whether there would be a recession. Certainly we thought the economy would be quite stagnant.

"I'm not saying it's off to the races, let's be clear. But I'm a bit more optimistic."

Asked if the UK could see a repeat of 2008 financial crisis - which sent shockwaves through the global financial system and beyond - Mr Bailey added: "No, I don't think it's a repeat of 2008.

"We've obviously increased the regulation of the banking system since then.

"We learnt a lot of lessons on the financial crisis. We keep learning lessons, of course. That's natural in life. I'm confident that the banks in this country are in a much stronger position."


Bank of England interest rate rise will 'cause a lot of financial pain'

The Bank of England interest rate rise will "cause a lot of financial pain for very little and indeed no gain", former Treasury official Jeevun Sandher has said.

Speaking to Sky News, Mr Sandher said the Bank had "fundamentally made the wrong decision" today.

He said today's inflation was being caused by the high energy and food prices that we see but raising interest rates would not bring down those prices.

"Raising interest rates only works when wages are driving inflation. That's not what we're seeing today," he said.

"Today's decision by the Bank will cause a lot of financial pain for very little and indeed no gain."

Asked what the Bank of England should have done, Mr Sandher said the Bank should have "paused" their rise on interest rates.

He added: "All today's interest rate rise is going to do is to make families poorer without reducing inflation...

"It's not going to be seen as causing or stopping the rise or the causes of rising inflation."

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