Banks told to do more for savers
More than three-quarters of Brits don't think banks are doing enough to help get savers a good deal.
Some 75% of savers are unhappy with the returns they get on their savings and are calling on banks to do more, according to consumer group Which?.
A third of savers (35%) said they wouldn't bother switching their main savings account because they didn't think it would make any difference to their balances, while only 16% have actually gone ahead and switched provider in the past 12 months.
A huge proportion (82%) of easy access and cash Isa accounts on the market are 'zombie accounts' - accounts now closed to new business - according to the research, and pay pitifully-low rates of interest.
Of these accounts, two in five (39%) pay interest of 0.5% or less, while 41% of them pay just 0.1%, highlighting just how poor the situation is for savers.
The savings market can also be confusing for consumers, with providers offering a range of accounts, often with similar names and different rates of interest.
Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: "With many savers never switching because they don't think it will make a difference, savings providers should do more to help their customers get the best deal.
"They need to be clear about interest rates, let people know when bonus rates come to an end and make it easier for people to switch Isas.
"Banks and building societies must scrap the savings trap and free savers from poor value accounts."
Which? is now campaigning to bring this about, including the closure of 'zombie' accounts making it easier for customers to see the rates they're getting.
Richard Al-Dabbagh, head of savings at Santander, welcomed the move. "Santander made great efforts last year to simplify its savings products, making it easier for customers and our colleagues alike," he said.
"We remain committed to the continuing provision of a simple suite of savings products."
Invidivual Savings Accounts were introduced on 6 April 1999 to replace personal equity plans (PEPs) and tax-exempt special savings accounts (TESSAs) with one plan that covered both stockmarket and savings products, the returns from which are tax-exempt. The ISA is not in itself an investment product. Rather, it’s a tax-free “wrapper” in which you place investments and savings up to a specified annual allowance where the returns (capital growth, dividends, interest) are tax-exempt (you don’t have to declare ISAs and their contents on your tax return). However, any dividends are taxed within the investment, and that can’t be reclaimed.