By Claire West

Business leaders have called for a fresh stimulus as they braced themselves for interest rate rises in the New Year. They welcomed the Bank of England's decision to keep interest rates at 0.5 per cent but fear the Monetary Policy Committee will be forced into a rise soon as inflation continues remains high.

Will Rogers, policy adviser at Birmingham Chamber of Commerce Group (BCCG), said: "The recovery has slowed and we are looking for a stimulus to the economy that an increase in money supply through quantitative easing can bring.

"The government needs to take measures that will grow the economy. Business will be at the heart of the recovery and confidence needs to be restored. "Birmingham Chamber's latest Quarterly Economic Survey shows that access to finance has improved, but figures are still relatively low so it is incumbent on the Bank to improve conditions."

Simon Topman, chairman of the West Midlands Chambers of Commerce, said: "The Bank of England has now held rates for 19 consecutive months. "But the climate is expected to get far worse once the public spending cut"Businesses need to be given the freedom and confidence to create jobs and
wealth and this will only be achieved if conditions are improved through economic measures and the reduction of red tape."