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UK rate cut is a question of when, not if, BoE’s Pill says

By David Milliken

LONDON (Reuters) -Bank of England (BoE) Chief Economist Huw Pill said on Monday that the question now for most of the central bank’s policymakers was when it would be appropriate to begin to cut interest rates, not if.

Pill was among the six members of the bank’s Monetary Policy Committee who voted last week to keep interest rates at 5.25%, while two officials voted for a hike and one voted for a cut.

Governor Andrew Bailey said after the decision that inflation was “moving in the right direction” and the BoE ditched a previous warning that rates could rise again, saying instead that borrowing costs would be kept “under review”.

Pill, speaking at an online forum hosted by the BoE, said he and other officials believed there needed to be further signs that underlying drivers of inflation, such as wages and services prices, were weakening before voting for lower rates.

“The debate has a bit shifted toward asking: ‘when is the point when we will have seen enough accumulated evidence that … we can begin to reduce the level of restriction in monetary policy in the economy and start to cut Bank Rate?’,” Pill said.

“It is the focus on ‘when’ rather than ‘if’ that has been what the Governor has been trying to focus on,” Pill added.

On Friday Pill said he thought a rate was “still some way off”.

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