It has been a week in which people could have taken the view that a lot happened on the UK interest rates front or that nothing much occurred at all.

The latter opinion might understandably be held by households and businesses under great strain from the surge in borrowing costs in recent times.

The Bank of England has hiked UK base rates from a record low of 0.1% in December 2021 to 5.25%.

This rise has taken a heavy toll on many, including but most certainly not limited to some businesses and households which had already seen their finances damaged significantly by the coronavirus pandemic.

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There is a high expectation among economists that benchmark UK interest rates will fall this year.

However, the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee decided not to cut base rates at its meeting last week, even as official data showed annual UK consumer prices index inflation fell from 4% in January to 3.4% in February. The no-change call was as expected.

So people, including those who would be particularly relieved to see interest rates start to fall, might well on this basis take the view that nothing significant happened last week.

However, for those who study the dynamics of the nine-strong MPC, crucially in this instance how voting patterns are evolving, last week will have seemed more eventful.

At the MPC’s previous meeting ending on January 31, there was a three-way split on rates.

External MPC member Swati Dhingra voted to cut UK base rates by a quarter-point to 5%, having previously taken a no-change stance.

Fellow external MPC members Jonathan Haskel and Catherine L Mann preferred to increase base rates by a quarter-point to 5.5%.

And the remaining six-strong camp prevailed with its no-change call.

External MPC member Megan Greene, who had voted unsuccessfully with Mr Haskel and Ms Mann for a quarter-point rise in base rates at the MPC’s meeting ending on December 13 last year, opted for no change at the meeting ending on January 31.

It emerged, when the Bank of England made a statement on Thursday about the latest MPC meeting which ended the previous day, that Mr Haskel and Ms Mann had abandoned their push for another rise in interest rates.

Such an increase has in any case looked highly unlikely for some time, given economic developments and the internal dynamics of the MPC.

That said, the move to a no-change stance by Mr Haskel and Ms Mann is nevertheless noteworthy.

Ms Dhingra, meanwhile, continued to vote unsuccessfully for a quarter-point cut in rates at last week’s meeting.

The vote to hold was thus eight to one.

So there are certainly interesting developments within the MPC.

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That said, that will be cold comfort for the many households and businesses struggling under the huge dual pressures of the UK’s protracted cost of living crisis and the surge in interest rates.

The Bank of England made no bones about its monetary policy stance weighing on activity in the UK economy, which fell into recession in the final three months of last year with a second consecutive quarterly fall in output.

The Old Lady of Threadneedle Street said: “The restrictive stance of monetary policy is weighing on activity in the real economy, is leading to a looser labour market and is bearing down on inflationary pressures.”

However, it believes that “nonetheless, key indicators of inflation persistence remain elevated”.

The robust reaction to the MPC’s decision to stand pat on rates last week from some senior experts who believe it is being too slow to start cutting benchmark borrowing costs was eye-catching indeed.

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Suren Thiru, economics director at the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, said: “Though this interest rate hiking cycle is firmly in the rear-view mirror, the long delay between tightening policy and its impact on the wider economy means that the heavy toll of 14 rate rises has yet to fully crystallise.

“The Bank of England remains overly cautious on the prospect of rate cuts given the startling inflation slowdown and an economy in recession, increasing the risk they prolong our economic struggles by keeping policy too tight for too long.”

The EY ITEM Club highlighted its belief on Thursday that “the case for cutting rates soon remains strong”.

The think-tank said: “Lower energy prices mean inflation is likely to fall below the Bank of England’s 2% target in April and remain sub-target for the rest of the year. And timelier indicators of pay growth compared to the standard year-on-year measure have already fallen to a pace consistent with the 2% goal. “While the MPC’s cautious language and the effect of April's large rise in the national living wage on broader pay growth could mean rate cuts are delayed further, the EY ITEM Club thinks the force of events will push the MPC to start cutting Bank Rate in June.”

Some relief looks to be on the way. However, for many, amid a valid debate over whether a UK economy that has not had its troubles to seek for a long time has been hampered to an unnecessary extent by monetary policy recently, the first reduction in interest rates cannot come soon enough.