Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

Britons 'saving more than ever'

Savings have hit their highest levels since records began nine years ago, new research has found

Determined savers are putting more than £100 a month away on average - marking the highest amount since records began nine years ago.

The findings from Treasury-backed savings body NS&I come despite the continued squeeze on people's budgets from high living costs and stagnant wages, as well as the poor savings returns on offer generally following four years of the bank rate being held at a record 0.5% low.

NS&I found savers are putting 8% or £104 of their income aside each month, which is the first time the sum has broken the £100 barrier as well as being the biggest amount since its quarterly survey began in 2004.

Much of the increase in savings levels has been driven by the younger generation, many of whom said they were piling up cash in a bid to buy a home.

There have been recent chinks of light in the housing market for would-be first-time buyers after several Government schemes have prompted improvements to the mortgage market, with lenders slashing their rates and some bringing out innovative deals.

Savers aged between 25 and 34 are putting away just over 9% of their incomes each month or £125, showing the highest average figure recorded for this age group since 2010. Three-fifths (59%) of savers in this age group said that they were stashing their cash up for something related to their home, such as a mortgage or home improvements.

Across the age groups, the proportion of Britons who are not saving anything has also dropped, from one quarter three months ago to one fifth in the latest study. Londoners were found to be saving the most across the country, at an average of almost 10% of their incomes or £142 each month.

Two-fifths of Londoners said they were saving to have cash to cover an emergency and three in 10 are saving for retirement. Both of these figures were the highest propensity recorded across Britain. Meanwhile, savers in Wales were putting the least cash aside, saving £87 or just under 8% of their average income, while savers in the South West of England were putting away the least amounts as a proportion of their income, at just over 7%, or £90 a month in cash terms.

Savings levels in Scotland were at the highest for the country in two years, with Scottish savers putting aside just under 8% of their incomes or £103 away each month.

Just over a quarter of Britain's savers (28%) said they set specific savings goals. NS&I said that Britons with such focus tend to save around £40 a month more than those who save with no specific targets in mind.

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