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09/09/11
Figures suggest savers have lost 40billion

As interest rates remain unchanged again at 0.5 percent, new figures from the Bank of England suggest that savers have lost more than 40bn because of low interest rates during the past two and a half years.

But those losses are mirrored by dramatic gains, amounting to more than 50bn, for mortgage borrowers who have paid less in interest on their loans during the same period.

The Bank of England's low rate marathon started when it cut it's base interest rate to 0.5% in March 2009. That makes it 31 months that rates have been kept down. Across the homes of middle income Britain, the strategy has had a major impact on household finances.

A BBC news item featured Tony and Teresa Hines; they're about to retire and are worse off from low interest rates and their son Warren and family for whom cheap borrowing has been a godsend.

In this home, interest income is down 30 a week and pensions will be 3,000 a year less than hoped.

Teresa and Tony Hines, commented: "Well like everybody else we're feeling the pressure, the prices just keep continuously going up every time you go shopping. We'd like to be self-sufficient, that's what we've always aimed at. This is the way we thought was the right way to do it, but at the moment we're actually losing money rather than making money. We don't want our children to be worrying about us in our retirement."

Down the road, son Warren has gained 3,500 from lower mortgage payments and he's moved his family to a bigger house.

Warren Hines, a mortgage borrower: "It's enabled us to make a decision about moving with confidence last year, but of course there are unfortunately losers in this situation like my parents."

In two and a half years of rock bottom rates, savers have lost 43 billion - that's compared with the two and a half years before the Bank of England cut rates. The flip side is that mortgage borrowers have gained 51 billion; more because mortgages are bigger than cash savings.

Forecasters are predicting that interest rates could stay this low right through next year, keeping mortgages affordable for millions but for people who depend on income from their savings, it could mean many more months of cutting back.