Make the most of your savings

But with savings rates only hovering above base rate, it's more important than ever to ensure your savings are earning as much they can.

Choose your weapon

Consider whether you're happy to lock away your money in return for better rates, or if you think you'll need quick access to it at any point. The best easy-access accounts – which allow you to dip into your savings whenever you need them – are currently paying around 2%.

Many include bonus rates for the first year, so you will have to move your money before the rate drops. Better rates are available with fixed rate accounts – the longer you tie your money up, the more your money will earn.

Use your allowance

Follow the golden rule of savings and make use of your ISA allowance, which for the new tax year is £11,520, half of which can be invested in a cash ISA. Holding money in an ISA means you will not pay tax on your interest or when you cash it in. You can also choose from instant-access, notice and fixed-rate accounts.

Set your sights

Having goals is an incredibly effective way of boosting your savings. According to NS&I's survey, savers with goals put away £39 more a month on average. So whether it's for a new car, home improvements or just a rainy day, set yourself a target and it will motivate you to put more away each month.

Who are the FCA?

The Financial Services Authority - which has been the regulator of financial services in the UK since 1997 – has been replaced by two new regulatory bodies, the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Here's what you need to know.

Who will be regulating the financial services I buy?

The FCA will supervise 26,000 firms that sell financial services and offer advice to consumers. it has a remit to ensure consumers are protected and to promote competition between providers. it will have the power to intervene when companies treat customers unfairly and force them to pay compensation.

However, complaints and compensation claims will still be handled by the Financial Ombudsman Service. For guidance on financial products and scams, visit the FCA's website ( or call 0800 111 6768.

What about the prudential regulatory Authority (PRA)?

The PRA will ensure the 1,700 banks and insurance companies it supervises have sufficient capital and liquidity to cope with any shocks that come their way. Struggling firms should also be able to fail without unsettling wider markets or calling on taxpayer help. The PRA is a part of the Bank of England.

Will I notice any difference?

Probably not. Martin Wheatley a former managing director of the FSA is heading up the FCA, while former FSA chief Hector Sants is running the PRA. Some would say the transition from FSA to FCA is literally just a change of middle initial.

However, with new powers to ban the sale of products it deems unsafe for consumers, the FCA appears to have more teeth than its predecessor.

More about