There are two I’s in Inflation…

Interest rates and inflation in the UK

The UK is facing a cost of living crisis as inflation has soared to its highest level in decades. The Bank of England has raised interest rates 13 times since December 2021 in an attempt to bring inflation back down to its original target of 2%. But what does this mean for consumers, savers and borrowers?

What is inflation and why is it rising?

The current UK interest rate is now: 5.0%

Inflation is the term used to describe rising prices. How quickly prices go up is called the rate of inflation. Inflation affects the purchasing power of money, meaning that the same amount of money buys less goods and services over time.

The rate of inflation in the UK is measured by two main indicators: the consumer price index (CPI) and the retail price index (RPI). The CPI is based on a basket of products and services that people typically buy, while the RPI also includes mortgage interest payments.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the CPI inflation rate was 8.7% in the year to May 2023, while the RPI inflation rate was 11.4%. This means that on average, prices were 8.7% and 11.4% higher respectively than they were a year ago.

The main drivers of inflation in the UK are:

  • Energy bills: Wholesale gas prices have surged due to global supply disruptions since the pandemic hit in 2020, geopolitical tensions, the war in Ukraine and increased demand. The government introduced an energy price guarantee to freeze energy prices for six months, but prices still went up 27% in October 2022. The energy price guarantee has been extended.
  • Shortages: The pandemic and Brexit have caused labour and supply chain issues that have affected many sectors, such as food, clothing, construction and hospitality. This has led to higher costs and lower availability of some goods and services.
  • Demand: As the economy recovers from the lockdowns, consumer spending has picked up, especially on leisure and travel activities. This has increased the demand for some goods and services, pushing up their prices.

How do interest rates affect inflation?

Interest rates are the cost of borrowing money or the reward for saving money. The Bank of England sets the bank rate, which is the interest rate it charges to commercial banks that borrow from it. The bank rate influences other interest rates in the economy, such as mortgage rates, loan rates and savings rates.

Interest rates climbed ever higher as the Bank of England lost control of inflation

The Bank of England uses interest rates as a tool to control inflation. The Bank has a target to keep inflation at 2%, but the current rate is more than five times that. When inflation rises, the Bank increases interest rates to make borrowing more expensive and saving more attractive. This reduces the amount of money circulating in the economy and slows down rising prices.

The Bank has raised interest rates 13 times since December 2021, from 0.1% to 5.0%. This is the highest level since March 2009, when interest rates were cut to a record low of 0.5% following the global financial crisis.

What does higher inflation mean for your money?

Higher inflation means that your money loses value over time. For example, if you had £100 in April 2022 and inflation was 8.7%, you would need £108.70 in April 2023 to buy the same amount of goods and services.

Higher inflation also affects your income, spending, saving and borrowing decisions.

  • Income: If your income does not keep up with inflation, you will have less purchasing power and lower living standards. For example, if your salary was £30,000 in April 2022 and increased by 2% in April 2023, you would earn £30,600. But if inflation was 8.7%, you would need £32,610 to maintain your purchasing power.
  • Spending: Higher inflation may encourage you to spend more now rather than later, as you expect prices to rise further in the future. However, this may also reduce your savings and increase your debt.
  • Saving: Higher inflation reduces the real return on your savings, meaning that your savings grow slower than prices. For example, if you had £10,000 in a savings account that paid 1% interest in April 2022, you would have £10,100 in April 2023. But if inflation was 8.7%, your savings would be worth only £9,300 in real terms.
  • Borrowing: Higher interest rates make borrowing more expensive, meaning that you have to pay more interest on your loans and mortgages. For example, if you had a £200,000 mortgage with a 25-year term and a 2% interest rate in April 2022, your monthly payment would be £848. But if the interest rate rose to 4.5% in April 2023, your monthly payment would increase to £1,111. Mortgage interest rates hit 6% in July 2023.

How can you protect your money from inflation?

There are some steps you can take to protect your money from inflation, such as:

  • Review your budget: Track your income and expenses and see where you can cut costs or increase income. Try to save more and spend less, especially on non-essential items.
  • Shop around: Compare prices and deals for the goods and services you need or want. Look for discounts, vouchers and cashback offers. Switch providers or suppliers if you can find better value elsewhere.
  • Pay off debt: This is a priority! If you have high-interest debt, such as credit cards or overdrafts, try to pay it off as soon as possible. This will reduce the amount of interest you pay and free up more money for saving or investing.
  • Save smartly: Look for savings accounts or products that offer interest rates higher than inflation (tricky to find). Consider diversifying your savings into different types of assets, such as stocks, bonds, property or gold. These may offer higher returns than cash in the long term, but bear in mind they also carry more risk and volatility.
  • Invest wisely: If you have a long-term goal, such as retirement or buying a house, you may want to invest some of your money in the stock market or other assets that can grow faster than inflation. However, you should only invest what you can afford to lose and be prepared for the ups and downs of the market. You should also seek professional advice before making any investment decisions.


Inflation and interest rates are two important factors that affect the UK economy and your personal finances. The UK is currently experiencing high inflation due to various factors, such as energy prices, shortages and demand. The Bank of England has raised interest rates to try to bring inflation back down to its target of 2%. Higher inflation and interest rates have implications for your income, spending, saving and borrowing decisions. You can take some steps to protect your money from inflation, such as reviewing your budget, shopping around, paying off debt, saving smartly and investing wisely.

How well has the Bank of England done to keep inflation at or close to 2%?

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