More think rise in interest rates would help them

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More people believe they would be helped than harmed by a rise in interest rates, according to a new survey.

A leading pollster said the finding suggested that a pre-election rate hike could actually improve David Cameron’s chances of staying in Downing Street, rather than damaging them, as is widely thought.

Some 31 per cent of those questioned by YouGov for The Times said that a rise in interest rates would leave them personally better-off, against 23 per cent who said they would be better-off with lower rates and 32 per cent who thought it would make little difference either way.

Faster than expected recovery has prompted speculation that the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee may increase the base rate from its historic low of 0.5 per cent before the general election in May 2015.

The Bank’s Governor, Mark Carney, has previously said that he does not expect a rise until unemployment drops to 7 per cent, probably in 2016. But with official jobless figures now standing at 7.4 per cent, many observers believe the crucial figure may be hit as early as next year.

A rise in interest rates would hit mortgage holders, making it more difficult for home-owners to pay back loans. But it would be good for savers, particularly pensioners who have suffered from poor rates of return on their nest-eggs over the period since the crash of 2008.

Crucially, over-60s are believed to be the age group most likely to vote in large numbers in 2015, meaning that a feelgood factor for pensioners could deliver dividends at the polls.

The survey found that more people in every part of the UK felt that they would be better-off with a rate rise, but the effect was most marked in the South of England and least noticeable in the West Midlands and Wales.

Some 45 per cent of those questioned expected interest rates to rise in 2014. A large majority (72 per cent) expect house prices to go up, and 16 per cent said they would be better-off if they do rise.