As the Bank of England continues to raise interest rates to combat inflation, businesses across the United Kingdom are grappling with the consequences of these policy decisions. As of mid-2023, the average interest rate on new business loans from banks had spiked from just over 2% in late 2021 to above 6%. From the cost of borrowing to investment plans and overall financial health, high interest rates can significantly impact a company’s operations and growth trajectory. Keep reading to find out how high interest rates are affecting UK businesses and what you need to know.

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Understanding Interest Rates

To understand the impact on businesses, it’s first important to understand what interest rates are and how they affect borrowing costs. Interest rates are the cost of borrowing money, typically expressed as a percentage of the loan amount that has to be paid annually to the lender. When interest rates rise, the cost of borrowing increases, making it more expensive for businesses to secure financing for operations, expansions or investments. And for companies that already have large amounts of variable-rate debts, those higher interest charges can significantly increase their annual expense and eat into their profits.

The Ripple Effect: Borrowing Costs On The Rise

One of the most direct impacts of high interest rates is the increased cost of borrowing for businesses. As the Bank of England’s base rate increases, commercial banks will adjust their lending rates, accordingly, making it more expensive for companies to take out new loans or pay existing debt.

For businesses heavily reliant on external financing, such as those in capital-intensive industries, the impact of rising borrowing costs can be substantial. Higher interest payments can strain cash flow, reduce profitability, and potentially hinder a company’s ability to invest in growth opportunities or maintain operations at the desired level.

Reconsidering Priorities

High interest rates not only affect a business’s borrowing costs but also influence its investment and growth decisions. When the cost of capital increases, some projects or expansions that were previously deemed financially viable may no longer meet the desired return on investment thresholds. Consequently, businesses may need to reevaluate their investment plans, prioritise projects with higher potential returns, or explore alternative financing options, such as equity financing or strategic partnerships.

Financial Health And Risk Management

Beyond the immediate impact on borrowing costs and investment decisions, high interest rates can also pose challenges to a business’s overall financial health. Companies with significant debt loads may find themselves under increased pressure as interest payments consume a larger portion of their cash flow. This heightened financial strain can make it more difficult for businesses to secure favorable financing terms in the future, further compounding the challenges they face.

Get Professional Support

High interest rates present significant challenges for UK businesses, however, by proactively managing their finances, exploring alternative funding sources, and adapting their strategies, businesses can navigate these challenging times and position themselves for long-term success. It’s essential for business leaders to stay informed about economic trends, monitor interest rate movements, and seek expert advice to make informed decisions that align with their company’s goals and risk tolerance.

By taking a proactive approach, like seeking professional help on how to position your business for success amidst increasing interest rates, you can stay ahead of the curve. Our team of financial experts at Bells Accountants is here to help, speak to one of our advisors today to get personalised guidance through these challenging economic conditions.