Banking, loans and cards

Some light at the end of the tunnel for savers . . .

Savers are enjoying some long-awaited good news, with a growing number of accounts meaning that people’s nest-eggs are finally growing again in real terms.
Recent news that inflation has fallen to its lowest level in a long time follows a sustained period where many people found it impossible to find a home where their money would increase in value, once the triple whammy of low interest rates, tax and high inflation were taken into account.
With the consumer prices index (CPI) falling from 1% to 0.5% in December, analysts at have calculated that basic-rate taxpayers need find an account that pays interest of only 0.63% a year in order for their money to maintain its value, while higher-rate taxpayers need accounts paying 0.83% a year.
More than half of the 630-plus non-Isa accounts on offer at the moment allow basic-rate taxpayers to achieve this. As far as tax-free Isas are concerned, Moneyfacts said that 179 of the 200 available accounts beat inflation.
Much of the fall in inflation is down to plummeting oil prices, which means a cut in the cost of fuel, transport and manufacturing – all things that are ultimately passed on to consumer.
But one swallow does not make a summer, and Sylvia Waycot, of Moneyfacts, said savers needed many more months like this to make up for a miserable few years. The effect of inflation that £10,000 invested five years ago by a basic-rate taxpayer in an account paying an average rate of interest would be worth the equivalent of  £8,755 today – a fall of more than 12% in spending power.
“Inflation may be falling, but thanks to the paltry interest that has plagued the savings market for so long now it is going to take years before the average saver feels the benefit of real spending power from their returns,” she said.
“Any saver who deposited £10,000 in an average account five years ago will find that while they still physically have £10,000, it is worth much less today.”
Rain Newton Smith, director of economics at the CBI, said the fall in inflation would probably mean interest rates would stay at their historical low for some time yet.
“The good news is that lower petrol prices are leaving households with a bit more in their pockets, which should help to support spending and growth in the UK,” he said,
“However, while lots of businesses will also benefit from lower costs, North Sea oil producers are facing tough times.
“With falling inflation rates and subdued earnings growth, we do not see the first rise in interest rates happening any time soon.”