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'Greedy' banks push up mortgage rates
Edmund Conway and Harry Wallop

Banks and building societies have been accused of profiteering after official figures showed that they had raised millions of their customers' mortgage bills before an expected cut in interest rates by the Bank of England.

While a cut today should bring some respite for struggling home owners, analysis by The Daily Telegraph shows how banks have not only failed to pass on the previous cut, they have actually raised the average mortgage rate.

Moreover, financial experts warned that even if rates continued to fall this year, the majority of the 11.8 million mortgage holders in Britain were unlikely to see much benefit.

In the past few weeks 10 mortgage lenders, including the Royal Bank of Scotland, Alliance & Leicester and the country's biggest building society, the Nationwide, have increased some of their rates, despite the Bank cutting rates from 5.75 per cent to 5.5 in December.

Bank of England data shows that the average mortgage rate has been inflated. When interest rates were previously 5.5 per cent - in May last year - the average mortgage rate was 5.66 per cent but when rates moved back down to that level in December the average was 5.93.

For someone on a typical interest-only home loan of £150,000, this meant an increase of £33.75 on their monthly bill to £741.25.

Eddie Weatherill, the chairman of the campaign group Independent Banking Advisory Service, said: "Over the last decade the banks have used interest rate changes to massage their own rates......Article conts (-)

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