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Bank of England announces £100bn stimulus to help UK economy through coronavirus pandemic

The Bank of England has kept interest rates at 0.1 per cent and pumped an extra £100bn into the economy in a bid to help the UK out of what is expected to be one of its deepest ever recessions.

It takes the bank’s total quantitative easing programme – effectively printing new money to buy government debt – to £745bn.

The move was in line with analysts’ forecasts that rates would remain unchanged and the bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) would expand its bond-buying programme, or quantitative easing, by £100bn-£150bn.

Eight of the nine-strong MPC voted in favour of the stimulus, with the bank’s chief economist Andy Haldane the only member to vote against, minutes from the MPC showed.

However, the decision means the pace of the bank’s Government bond purchases will slow from around £13bn a week to £5bn.

“We’re slowing from warp speed to something that by any historical standards still looks fast,” the bank’s governor, Andrew Bailey, told reporters in a press conference after the decision.

The bank warned last month that the UK economy would contract by as much as 30 per cent in the first half of the year – which would be easily the worst performance on modern record.

It said in its report on Thursday that recent data indicates the recession will not be as severe as previously thought.

But the bank struck a more pessimistic tone on the outlook for jobs, which it said was now “tilted to the downside”.

Official figures showed employers had 612,000 fewer people on their payrolls in May than in March as companies froze hiring and laid off staff.

“As partial lifting of the measures takes place, we see signs of some activity returning,” said Mr Bailey in the press conference.

But he added: “We don’t want to get too carried away by this. Let’s be clear, we’re still living in very unusual times.

The minutes of the MPC’s meeting warned: “While recent demand and output data had not been quite as negative as expected, other indicators suggested greater risks around the potential for longer lasting damage to the economy from the pandemic.”

Voting against further stimulus measures, Mr Haldane said that the recovery was happening “sooner and materially faster” than had been forecast in May.

Data on payments suggest consumer spending started to recover in May and June, and the housing market has recently begun to pick up, the bank said.

Official figures released last week show that gross domestic product (GDP) slumped by a record 20.4 per cent in April as the country endured a full month of lockdown conditions, and has now contracted by a quarter since the Covid-19 outbreak began.

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