The Bank of England today announced it is holding the base rate at its 0.5% historic low for the 26th consecutive month.

Some economists predicted there would be a hike this month though over the past few weeks that view diminished. Many now expect a summer or autumn rise, if at all this year.

Three members of the Bank's Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) have previously voted for a rise to help curb high inflation but this has not been enough to force a hike.

The low interest rate environment has meant millions of homeowners are paying relatively cheap mortgage payments but savers have suffered due to the low returns on offer since 2008.

Ray Boulger, from mortgage broker John Charcol, says: "The City has belatedly recognised there are far too many problems in the economy for the MPC to increase base rate in the next few months.

"For the second time in as many months the majority of economists have yet again put back by a further three months their expectation as to when it will increase.

"November now appears to be the majority view, but with an increasing number acknowledging the year may well end with base rate still at 0.5%."