Two words that came through in the discussions of the Yorkshire Shadow MPC this month were ‘stagnation’ and ‘caution’.   

Members were unanimous in voting to hold the interest rate at the current 5.25%.

The MPC is a partnership between The York Press, Clive Owen LLP and Recognition PR, which considers the state of the region’s economy and gives experts from a variety of sectors the opportunity to argue their case for a shift, or hold, in the interest rate.

Becky Hart, CBI Regional Director Yorkshire & the Humber said: “I think members are quite pleased that we’ve not fallen into recession. However, they’re really not seeing the sort of drivers that would help them invest as they’re struggling with access to finance.  And I think also the Red Sea is starting to have an impact on Yorkshire and Humber businesses, it’s slowly but surely, but it is definitely growing.”

Gary Smith, chartered financial planner at Evelyn Partners said:  “The markets did really well at the end of last year on the expectation that central banks around the world will start to reduce interest rates this year.  It is still priced in.  But if we do see inflation because of the Red Sea, that could impact upon that. So geopolitical issues are causing volatility.”

Phillipa Symington, partner at Clive Owen LLP in York, said: “I think there’s definitely a fair amount of caution and the clients we’ve had discussions with are definitely still feeling the pressure on salaries, which is driven by the employee but also the market. So costs are a difficult one to bring down because you need your people, so that is a concern. There’s a constant caution of what is coming next.”

Richard Peak, managing director of Helmsley Group, said: “I found this quarter a very, very flat one and there’s not been a lot of stuff going on since we last met.  Compared to the cities around it York isn’t being impacted adversely because I think York has always had a very good reputation of being a little bit of an economic bubble.  There’s a little bit of a bleak picture in the wider region but we don’t see York being affected.”

Rob Lazenby of Castle Employment said: “We’re having a lot of discussions around the impact of the national living wage increases in April.  We are speaking to clients who would normally pay above the national living wage but they’re having to redress what their differential is.”

Dave Broadbent, partner at insolvency practitioners Begbies Traynor said:  “We’re seeing a lot at the moment that businesses are struggling as a result of cost of living. The biggest driver though is the Revenue and Customs are starting to recover money owed.  I’m speaking to probably 100 people a month at the moment and the majority are small loan amount businesses struggling to repay the Bounce Back loan, they just can’t afford to make the repayments.”

Steve Lowe, of Newsquest, said:  “We’re doing quite  a lot of work with people that are investing in buildings in York and transforming them, particularly into leisure and hospitality space, which is really interesting and exciting.”

Christoper White, chief financial officer at the Ecology Building Society, said: “I agree with the group around the act that there’s been a lot of stagnation and caution in the market at the moment. But mortgage rates are one of the areas where we have seen some movement over the last month or so and obviously that is positive for people.”