A United Trust Bank (UTB) broker sentiment survey has revealed over a third of brokers expect the Bank of England (BoE) base rate to be reduced by the end of 2020.

United Trust Bank, said 33% of brokers who took part in the survey believe the base rate will be 0.5% at the end of the year and a further 3% believe it will be 0.25%.

41% of respondents believe the base rate will remain unchanged at 0.75% throughout the year.

The survey was held between 13 December 2019, following the general election, and 7 January 2020 – with 100 brokers working in the field of property and asset finance taking part.

Harley Kagan, group managing director of United Trust Bank, said lower rates may have the effect of “spurring on SMEs to invest in their businesses and developers to green-light new projects, actions some may have been putting off due to economic uncertainty.”

“However, regardless of whether interest rates fall in the next few months, the cost of borrowing is and has been very low for some time,” he added.

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There was speculation a base rate cut was becoming more likely following reports the UK’s inflation rate has fallen to 1.3% in December 2019, down from 1.5% in November.

By mid-January, market indicators were suggesting there was a 60% chance of a base rate cut on 30 January.

Despite a surge in expectations that it would reduce rates for the first time in four years, the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee voted 7-2 last week to hold rates at 0.75%.

The Bank slashed its longer-term growth predictions however and expects that the economy will grow just 0.75% in 2020, down from an initial estimate of 1.25%.

The BoE estimates 1.5% growth in 2021, down from 1.75%. Meanwhile, the FT reports that the FCA is probing a spike in the price of sterling ahead of the Bank’s interest rate decision. The FCA can take action when currency trading affects other regulated markets.

United Trust Bank is a specialist lender based in London and incorporated in 1955. UTB has divisions providing asset finance, motor finance, bridging finance, development finance, specialised mortgages and structured finance.