Page last updated at 11:47 GMT, Friday, 4 December 2009

Savings are 'static in downturn'

Piggy bank
Many people save money in case of a financial emergency

The proportion of income put aside as savings has remained relatively static despite the changing economic picture in the UK, a survey has found.

People have put away about 6% of their take-home income this year - a similar level to 2005, according to National Savings and Investments (NS&I).

It said uncertainty in the downturn and low interest rates had failed to change people's habits with savings accounts.

Bank of England statistics have shown a trend of people paying off debts.

Emergency fund

The NS&I findings, part of its Savings Survey, found that regular savers tended to save twice the average saver's proportion of their take-home income.

There has been a shift in the motivation for savings, according to the survey.

It said that the most common savings objective was now to set money aside for an emergency, ahead of saving for retirement or for holidays and special occasions.

There has also been a general trend of people paying off debts, rather than saving or spending more in the downturn.

Bank of England figures published earlier in the week showed that borrowing on credit cards rose by £134m in October compared with September, but was more than offset by the record fall of £713m in other forms of consumer credit such as bank loans, loans for cars and hire purchase agreements.

"Considering interest rates on savings accounts are at such low levels, investors are using their money to greater effect, paying off mortgages and investing in assets that produce a higher yield than cash," said Adrian Lowcock of Bestinvest.

"Debt levels have come down and many investors have taken advantage of the new Isa allowances introduced in October."

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