The Bank of England&#39s Monetary Policy Committee today voted to maintain the Bank&#39s repo rate at 4%.

Jonathan Cornell, technichal director at Hamptons International Mortgages, says: “The Monetary Policy Committee has resisted the pressure to put up the base rate, so expect an increase in May. The MPC faced a tough decision, trying to keep a hand on consumer debt and the housing market whilst trying to support beleaguered manufacturers and exporters, who have been hit by the strength of the pound.”

CBI chief economic adviser Ian McCafferty adds: “Business is pleased the Bank has not rushed into a decision to raise interest rates. The manufacturing recovery is fragile, inflation prospects are well under control and the previous two rate rises have not fully fed through.

“If the recovery continues as we hope, business recognises that rates will have to increase over the course of this year. But the Bank&#39s gradualist policy of well-explained and well-signalled rises remains the best way to maintain economic stability.

“The high level of personal debt reinforces the case for a steady approach and business remains concerned that sterling&#39s renewed strength could hold back the recovery.”

The minutes of the meeting will be published at 9.30am on Wednesday April 21.