How rip off Rishi manipulated National Savings punters only to dump on them when it suited him

Rip of Rishi Sunak – the manipulative chancellor

In November I wrote a blog castigating Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, for his introduction of “rip off ” rates for safe savers – many of them pensioners – who have National Savings accounts.

As I said at the time; ” Effectively Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, is making sure that millions of savers and those who have a flutter on the Premium Bonds subsidise the government’s multi billion pay outs by losing money every year they invest.”

Now thanks to the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee – which took up the issue of the low rates -and also poor customer service, record levels of complaints and long waits hanging on their phone lines – his whole dastardly plot has been exposed.

Mel Stride MP pic credit: gov.uk

Mel Stride, Conservative chair of the committee, decided to write to Ian Ackerley, Chief Executive of National Savings and Investments, demanding an explanation.

Today the committee has published his reply with a tough comment from Mr Stride about what happened.

” damage may have been done to NS&I’s reputation”

He said: “An exodus of savers from NS&I when it cut interest rates in November was foreseeable and so it is disappointing that the average time to answer a customer’s call was 19 minutes that month.

I would like to thank Mr Ackerley for his frank response, but the damage that may have been done to NS&I’s reputation over the last few months is worrying.

“NS&I has a big role to play in helping the Government fund the costs of the coronavirus recovery scheme and it will need to work hard to win back customers.”

But what is really interesting is Mr Ackerley’s explanation of how these changes in interest rates came about.

Ministers took decision not to cut interest rates

After Rishi Sunak became chancellor and pandemic took hold he decided to deliberately to attract savers to get the government out of a spending hole.

As National Savings says:

“In March 2020, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, HM Treasury asked NS&I to provide proposals for how NS&I could quickly provide additional funding beyond the £6 billion target to support the Government’s increased borrowing requirement. …A proposal was made to Ministers to reverse the decision to implement interest rate reductions to NS&I’s variable rate products that were announced in February (before the Covid-19 pandemic had taken hold) and which were due to come into effect on 1 May 2020. “

“Ministers made the decision to proceed with this plan and on 1 May, only interest rate reductions on NS&I’s fixed term products came into effect. Variable rate product interest rates were left unchanged.”

By September it had been too successful. ” There was unexpectedly more cash in the savings market and much of this money came to NS&I – £38.3 billion in net inflows from March to September 2020 – this was a greater level of Net Financing than in the previous three years combined.”

Plan to drive savers away

So a decision was then made deliberately to drive savers away by introducing rock bottom rates because he no longer needed it.

National Savings said: “Based on previous patterns, we expected that a proportion of customers would withdraw their money. However, as many were newer customers who had come to NS&I when we were offering ‘best buy’ rates, the scale of the outflows and the timing of customers cashing in their holdings happened earlier than expected.
“A combination of factors has impacted our customer service operations which has been stressful for some customers and staff. We did not intend for this to happen but we do not believe that the situation could have been predicted.”

What happened was a rise in complaints, people waiting nearly 20 minutes on the phone to contact them and general disatisfaction with the service.

What is not said though is that the government will not want people to continue saving when the pandemic is over. They will need to spend to revive the economy. What better way to empty savings accounts than to make them so unattractive that people lose money keeping cash there.

So the real story is that this government is deliberately manipulating punters to suit its own interests -putting money away when they can’t spend it during the pandemic – and forcing them to spend it when the pandemic is over. They must take the average saver to be a fool.

Updated: Why Rishi Sunak’s rip off rates at National Savings should be boycotted this month

Rishi Sunak: King of the rip off rates for the ordinary savers

See end of this blog for three accounts offering you more money than these scam rates

While The Treasury has had to hand out the largesse to keep the economy alive during the Covid-19 pandemic a really nasty trick is being played on the millions of small savers who rely on National Savings for a safe home for their money.

Effectively Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, is making sure that millions of savers and those who have a flutter on the Premium Bonds subsidise the government’s multi billion pay outs by losing money every year they invest.

Their savings are being destroyed and made smaller every year – even if we are having record lower rates of inflation.

It is also sending out an appalling message to people who wish to save money by telling them that even their meagre savings will be reduced year on year as inflation erodes them.

What I am talking about is the new interest rates being offered by National Savings from November 24. They echo the free fall in interest rates offered by most banks hit by the Covid-19 panic. The only difference is that this government will use your money to prop up their finances.

The rates are truly horrendous as shown here. The worst case example are Income Bonds shown here.

As you can see the rate falls from 1.15 per cent to 0.01 per cent – virtually providing nobody with any income. Indeed if you have less than 646 pounds invested you literally won’t even get a penny.

Similarly with an investment account. And you will get far fewer prizes from premium bonds – the odds rise from 24,500 to 1 to 34,500 to 1.

So basically this is one giant rip off – in total contrast to the rich and wealthy who can game the stock market , invest in tax havens or have the money to take advantage of investment returns in China and the Far East. Indeed as there is a limit on claiming Universal Credit if you have savings above six thousand pounds in National Savings it is worth spending them or your payment will be reduced. If you have over sixteen thousand pounds you won’t get a penny.

I notice Rishi Sunak himself has recently set up a blind trust which means he has substantial investments – which he does not want people to know about. I bet you they are not offering a return of 0.01 per cent to help fund his millionaire life style.

UPDATE: Three accounts which give you higher interest if you want to boycott National Savings

According to the reliable Which? Money there are three instant access savings accounts that offer you higher interest and allow you to access your money. All three have unfortunately now been withdrawn but their replacements still offer better value than anything at National Savings

The new ones are:

Coventry Building Society Easy Access Isa. Tax free and pays 0.50 per cent . Can withdraw money at any time

Principality BS Easy Access Web Saver 0.6 per cent with unlimited withdrawals

Yorkshire Building Society Six Access e-Saver No 3 and e-Saver ISA issue 3 both over tiered rates between 0.2 per cent and 0.6/0.55 per cent and allow sui withdrawals a year

Boycott this mean Treasury National Savings ISA account that is slashing interest rates for pensioners and the poor

treasury

HM Treasury: Slashing your savings in National Savings

CROSS POSTED ON BYLINE.COM

Over a month ago bank rate rose for only the second time in a decade – promising a bit more money for people who have savings and are seeing their money eroded by inflation.

They would probably hope to get an extra paltry 0.25 per cent interest on their already diminishing  savings – lucky to get just over one per cent on an instant access cash ISA when inflation is running at 2.7 per cent.

However the well paid top mandarins and ministers at the Treasury and National Savings ( their chief exec, ex Barclays banker Ian Ackerley is on a pittance of £185,000 a year plus an annual £69,000 payment into his pension) had other ideas. Why not use the cover of the bank rate rise to slash the interest we already pay out to people who use National Savings as a safe haven but need to access money to meet unexpected bills for a broken boiler or fridge. Everybody will think interest rates will go up, they wouldn’t think anyone would slash them now

So in July when both the Treasury and National Savings knew a bank rate rise was imminent they agreed not to put up the rate of their cash isa but CUT it by 0.25 per cent to just 0.75 per cent. It was though Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England was about to announce a bank rate cut not a bank rate rise.

Today the new cut came into effect – just at the point when other banks and building societies are putting their rates on equivalent cash isas UP.

You would think from the blurb on their website that National Savings would do the opposite. Their comment on interest rate changes reads:

 “Can NS&I change the interest rate?

Yes – the rate is variable so we can change it up or down from time to time, for example when the Bank of England base rate changes or when rates in the general savings market change. See the customer agreement (terms and conditions) for more details.”

So we know now  in this case when the bank interest rate goes UP,  the National Savings rate will go DOWN.

And as for other providers- Metro Bank for example, has an equivalent instant access cash isa which was paying less than National Savings at 0.75 per cent. But since the bank rate rise it is now paying more. Its new rate is 0.90 per cent -UP 0.15 per cent while National Savings are DOWN 0.25 per cent to 0.75 per cent. Which Money? has other recommended providers paying more.

So what’s their explanation?

A spokesperson said today :”The decision to reduce the interest rate on Direct ISA was taken in order to deliver positive value for taxpayers. NS&I sets its interest rates to balance the interests of its savers, taxpayers and the stability of the broader financial services sector.

“In order to take this decision, we made a proposal to HM Treasury which was approved. We review the rates on all of our products regularly and recommend changes to HM Treasury when we believe they are appropriate, to ensure that we continue to balance the interests of our savers, taxpayers and the stability of the broader financial services sector.

“We announced the change on 16 July 2018. It is NS&I policy to give customers at least two months’ notice of any detrimental variable rate change on our variable rate accounts, so the rate change will be effective from today, 24 September 2018.”

So basically National Savings are paying lower rates to small savers ( the maximum you can put in the isa is £20,000, the minimum £1) to make sure high rate taxpayers are not having to bear such a burden to fund other public services. No doubt it is linked to the Treasury regretting it has to pay people’s pensions anyway.

 My view is the National Savings Direct ISA should be boycotted because the people who run it appear to  have the Treasury’s interests than yours at heart. The decision also helps other big banks not to increase rates if the state rival is cutting rates – and will boost profits for the major banks.

I took all my money out of this particular National Savings account today. I would not blame other people doing the same – now you can get higher isa rates elsewhere. Your only restriction is that if took out an isa this financial year ( from April) you can’t take out another tax free cash account. But if you did it last year you can and should – rather than leave the Treasury to profit from you.