By Daniel Hunter

The Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee have met for their first meeting of the new year, deciding not to change the interest rate, which remains at 0.5%, or to increase the quantitative easing (QE) programme.

The decision to maintain the record low interest rate means it hasn't changed since March 2009, whilst the level of QE remains at £375 billion.

The Bank of England has previously said that the country's economic output could contract for the last three months of 2012, raising the prospect of a triple-dip recession.

Official figures for fourth quarter gross domestic product (GDP) are due to be released on 25 January.

The minutes from this meeting of the rate-setting monetary policy committee (MPC) will be released two days before that.

"A change in monetary policy was unlikely this month, given the UK economy continues to send out mixed signals," said Anna Leach, from employers' organisation the CBI.

"Underlying economic conditions remain fairly flat and there are early signs that credit availability is being boosted by the Funding for Lending Scheme (FLS)."

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