Interest rates have been held for the sixth time in a row by the Bank of England, remaining at their highest level for 16 years.

But the nine-member panel that decides rates saw seven vote for a hold, and two for a cut – that is one more vote for an immediate cut compared with the last decision.

Governor Andrew Bailey said: “We’ve had encouraging news on inflation and we think it will fall close to our 2% target in the next couple of months. We need to see more evidence that inflation will stay low before we can cut interest rates. I’m optimistic that things are moving in the right direction.”