Homeowners will benefit from at least another three years of low mortgage payments, the new governor of the Bank of England has signalled.

Businesses are also set to reap the rewards after Canadian economist Mark Carney yesterday indicated his institution could be expected to keep interest rates low until 2016.

But experts warned this would be bad news for savers, who have already seen the value of their nest eggs depleted in recent years.

Making the announcement, Mr Carney said that while the UK's economy was growing, the recovery was still one of the slowest on record.

In response, he said, interest rates will not rise until unemployment has fallen significantly, to levels not expected until 2016.

Low mortgage payments have been credited with shielding many families from the full impact of the last recession.

Experts also warn many households will struggle to pay their bills if interest rates rise.

Chancellor George Osborne welcomed the announcement, which was the first major act by the new governor since he took over from Sir Mervyn King earlier this year.

Mr Osborne said: "I think it means for hard-working families thinking of taking out a mortgage, or a business thinking about expanding or taking out a loan to expand, they're going to have greater certainty that interest rates are going to stay low for longer and it is part of our economic plan to move this country from economic rescue to economic recovery, and I think it's very welcome news."

But critics warned the move risked fuelling another boom and bust and returning the UK to the economic disasters of the 1970s.

Professor Philip Booth, from the Institute of Economic Affairs, called the move the most dangerous development in economic policy since the late 1980s.

"The level of unemployment is mainly determined by a range of factors such as labour market regulation, the benefits system, tax rates and so on," he said. "To try to use monetary policy to reduce unemployment when inflation is already above target is playing with fire and could lead us down the road we followed in the 1970s."

Mr Carney said he wanted to keep interest rates low until the UK's unemployment rate fell from 7.8% to 7%, a level economists predict will take another three years to reach and require the creation of about 750,000 jobs.

About 2.51 million Britons are currently unemployed.

Labour had also warned of an "underemployment" crisis, with one in ten employees wishing they could work more hours.

Issuing what he described as forward guidance, Mr Carney, who was handpicked by Mr Osborne for the role, said there were clear signs economic activity had picked up this year as he upgraded growth forecasts for this year and next.

The Bank has also pledged to plough on with its controversial scheme of quantitative easing -essentially, printing new money - which has also been blamed for running down the worth of people's savings.

Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls said: "By recognising the importance of policy action to support jobs and growth, at last we are seeing the governor show the leadership we have failed to see over the past three years and are still not seeing from the Chancellor. Mark Carney is right to warn that the recovery is weak. It is the slowest on record and families are facing a growing cost-of-living crisis."

There was a mixed reaction from business leaders. The British Chambers of Commerce said the move would give firms a much-needed confidence boost.

However, the Institute of Directors argued the interest-rate announcement "doesn't really take us forward".