All 62 economists in the poll, taken October 28-30, said the BoE's Monetary Policy Committee would cut rates to at least 4.0 percent when it meets next week, with 51 forecasting a 50 basis point cut, 8 a 75 point cut and 3 predicting 100 basis points.
The BoE has never cut UK rates by more than a half point since it was granted independence in 1997. It last cut them by a half point to 4.50 percent in an unprecedented coordinated move with other world central banks earlier in October.
The poll found a 60 percent probability of a half-point cut on Nov 6 -- the first time in the more than 10-year history of Reuters BoE polls that such a cut has been predicted. There was a median 20 percent chance it would be even bigger.
"Continued credit market strains, a deep contraction in Q3 GDP and a 'decisive' deterioration in inflation risks leaves little in the way of an aggressive easing," said David Page, economist at Investec, who expects a half-point cut.
That would take rates to their lowest since early 2004.
And economists have good reason to be confident that will happen. Since 2002, when Reuters first asked for probabilities of various outcomes, the bank has always delivered after a median probability polled of greater than 50 percent.
Median forecasts showed rates at 3.75 percent by the end of the year, 3.0 percent by March, dropping to 2.75 percent by June, and then bottoming at 2.5 percent in the fourth quarter, before creeping back up in 2010. A poll published last week saw rates at 4.0 percent by the end of this year, 3.5 percent by end-March and then at 3.0 percent by the middle of the year, where they would remain until the middle of 2010.
BEAT THE RETREAT
Data released on Friday showed the British economy shrank 0.5 percent on a quarterly basis in the last three months, the first decline in 16 years, after stagnating in the second quarter. Recent data suggest the UK is in recession.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown admitted last week Britain was likely to fall into one -- usually defined as two consecutive quarters of negative growth -- as all major economies were suffering because of the global financial crisis.
Britain's Finance Minister Alistair Darling went further, saying on Wednesday the country was moving into recession and both the stock market and the pound have tumbled to multi-year lows recently as markets fear the recession may be deeper and longer than previously expected.
Meanwhile high inflation, running at a 16-year high of 5.2 percent which is more than double the central bank's two percent target, is seen falling to 2.7 percent next year and this will give the central bank more room to manoeuvre.
"Inflation is effectively no longer a target of policy," said Stephen Lewis at Monument Securities.
Britons' expectations of the rate of inflation over the next 12 months tumbled to 2.9 percent in October from 4.4 percent in September a YouGov/Citigroup survey on Monday showed and will provide comfort to the BoE, which feared rising inflation would become entrenched in the public mindset.
British property prices, a bedrock of consumer wealth, are seen falling 15 percent this year and a further 10 percent in 2009, a Reuters poll taken last week found.
Economists gave only a 30 percent probability of further coordinated action by the major central banks, and action is even less likely after the United States Federal Reserve cut rates by 50 basis points to 1.0 percent on Wednesday.
Bank of England Deputy Governor John Gieve warned on Tuesday that the financial crisis was not over and said international authorities had to be ready to act again if needed.
Indeed, major central banks are still seen cutting rates further and the European Central Bank, which joined in the Oct. 8 coordinated move, is also expected to cut interest rates by 50 basis points when it meets next week.