The Bank of England is likely to slash interest rates four times next year in response to a sharp slowdown in growth, economists say. Sunday Times

The first cut could come as early as next month, analysts believe, following the monetary policy committee’s unanimous decision to cut Bank rate from 5.75% to 5.5% this month. Four cuts would take the rate to 4.5%, the level at which the Bank started to raise rates in August last year.

The prediction of four rate cuts next year comes in new reports from the Centre for Economics and Business Research and BNP Paribas. Both expect weak growth to outweigh the Bank’s worries about the inflationary impact of dearer food and energy.