People from across the West Midlands gathered in Coventry to share their views on the state of the economy with Bank of England officials.
Topics including jobs and pay, housing, transport, the voluntary sector, and the cost of living were discussed by panel members.
The event, held on 23 January, was attended by 26 local people from across the region who had applied to take part.
They also had the opportunity to ask questions about the work of the Bank of England and give their feedback on its policies and decisions.
James Bell, who heads the part of the Bank of England which produces its forecasts for the economy, attended the meeting at Coventry’s Central Hall.
He was joined by the Bank of England’s Agent for the West Midlands, Graeme Chaplin.
Graeme said: “These events are really valuable for the Bank to get a sense of how people are feeling about the economy. I am delighted we had such an energised and engaged group in Coventry and that they shared their thoughts with us so openly.
“From people’s experiences of how their cost of living has changed, to their thoughts about the changing nature of the world of work, we heard things which have given us new perspectives on issues that are central to the work of the Bank of England.”
The event was the second Citizens’ Panel that the Bank has hosted in the West Midlands. The first meeting, which took place last year, was held in Birmingham.
The discussions will feed into a report that is due to be published by the Bank in the coming months.
Citizens’ Panel chair Bridget Blow said: “These events give people in the West Midlands a rare opportunity to speak directly to the Bank of England about the issues that really matter to them.
“From concerns about the state of the local high street and transport connections to the big issues affecting the global economy, we heard a wide range of views from a diverse panel of local people.
“I am confident the Bank of England benefits from hearing these insights, and hope that people also left the event feeling better informed about the important work that the Bank does and how it affects us all in different ways.”
Panel member Mary Burns, of Coventry, said: “I took part to be able to voice my opinion and listen to other people’s views .There was a wide range of panel members with different ages represented as well as a fair representation of races and cultures.
“As expected, panellists’ views on how the economy would be affected by leaving Europe differed but in the main it was positive. The key message was the need to raise interest rates to encourage people to save and be responsible for their debts. It’s important for the Bank of England to hear, listen and respond to people whose lives are affected by their policy decisions.”
Nukey Proctor, of Coventry, said: “The session was exactly as I hoped; an opportunity for local residents like me to find out more about the Bank of England, ask them questions and gauge how others in the local area feel about the national economy. It managed to both provide a spectrum of views and perspectives, whilst also demonstrating how much unanimity there was in the local community. It’s important to hold events like this so a human face is put on such a critical component of our financial system.”
Jason Dennis, of Worcester, said: “Being on the panel gave me a unique insight into the level of understanding and knowledge the Bank of England staff had and how they operate and adapt.”
Nick Chomyk, of Walsall, said: “It is important that institutions such as the Bank of England listen, not only to those in Government and industry, but to a wide range of ordinary people. Citizens’ Panels give the opportunity for those affected directly by financial policies to express their opinions and thoughts. We need to be considered as customers, and not just statistics within a financial economic model.”