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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 July, 2004, 11:42 GMT 12:42 UK
Are your savings giving you a good return?
Bundles of paper money (EyeWire)

An influential committee of MPs has strongly criticised the savings industry.

The Treasury Select Committee said the industry has a "catalogue of problems" which have damaged savers' confidence.

Consumers are owed a better "duty of care" and greater transparency over charges are needed, the MP's said.

Select Committee chairman John McFall MP, said that many savers had lost faith in the industry because they saw top executives receiving massive pay increases while the value of their investments had collapsed.

Are your savings giving you a good return? Have you experienced any problem? Do you trust the savings industry? Send us your comments and stories.

The following comments reflect the balance of views we have received so far:

The biggest threat to savings and financial investment instruments is the 'investors charges' that are applied whether their investment choices for your money are successful or not, in effect, your money funds their failure.
Gerry, Scotland

When more and more elements of life are paid for by the government as long as you don't have any savings (think benefits if you lose your job, care for the elderly, legal aid and so on) it's small wonder people don't bother saving any more. You can either spend it now on things you enjoy, or watch the government take it from you to pay for essentials before they pick up the tab when you've been bled dry.
Jonny, England

What savings?! Any extra cash after paying council tax, rent, bills, student loan and overdraft goes on feeding myself! After looking at the interest rates on high street savings accounts, I'll get a better rate of return if I hide my spare money (in 1ps and 2ps) in a sock under my bed.
Alison, Edinburgh, Scotland

Having spent two years in a job where I had to tell people what their pensions were going to pay out, I wouldn't dream of putting my own money into one
Jennifer, Netherlands, ex UK
What savings? The only people I know with savings are those who have been subsidised by their rich parents their whole lives. Having spent two years in a job where I had to tell people what their pensions were going to pay out, I wouldn't dream of putting my own money into one. I've always took the ones my employers have paid into for me but since nobody has a job for life anymore they're not going to be worth anything. Instead we will continue to build up our property portfolio, with two properties in two countries and another on the way in a third we're making sure no single government has the power to bankrupt us.
Jennifer, Netherlands, ex UK

Savings? What are they? I'm a high earner, but I'm still paying off my university education, because the government wouldn't help. I pay a fortune to travel on dirty, dangerous public transport to get to my place of work. I see 40% of what I earn snatched from me and given to people like the woman two floors below who just got given her flat through the council whereas I had to work years to live here. She's automatically given the right to buy hers now at a discount price, I don't! If I travel to see my friends elsewhere in London I'm fined 5 each time in the congestion zone. Soon Mr Livingstone wants me to pay to drive around my own neighbourhood for goodness sake! I work hard and earn high, but it's all taken away from me, whereas if I didn't work and have been a council tenant for years like the tenant below me, I'd be rewarded with having everything paid for me and get a bargain luxury apartment in the process!
Rebecca, London, UK

I am fed up with all the criticism of the UK Savings Industry when the Government does little to encourage savings by taking away many of the historic tax advantages. With profit Endowments were once a stable form of savings with no real problems for decades and giving savers a tax free return aided by a Tax incentive of Tax relief on the premiums ( at one time of the full amount). This has gradually been taken away by various Chancellors albeit there is still a 10 per cent allowance on older pre 86 policies. The last budget reduced the Cash ISA limit from 3000 to 1000: so why doesn't the Government encourage more savings by giving tax advantages?
Paul Joslyn, Maidstone

The current regime discourages savers. Taxed on earnings, taxed on savings, relatives are taxed on your estate when you die. Best spend everything and just rely on state benefits.
Christine, Australia/ex UK

My pension, after 40 years, is stuffed, so spend it before someone else spends it for you. Saving is for mugs like me.
Colin Harrison, England

At 3%, all I need is a million quid to make it worth bothering with. So I will have to invest in the lottery first!
Graham, UK

They are always quick to raise the borrowing rates.. yet forget that they are borrowing your savings from you!!
Mark H, UK

The only people who address the hard issues are the Consumers Association. The UK's savings industry system has problems from the top down and it is in the hands of politicians who cannot or will not tackle them. Therefore pontificating from the Select Committee is ridiculous and hypocritical.
Ralph, Nottingham

When you compare the rich pickings of the credit card companies and finance companies with their high interest rates you realise that savers on the other side are being robbed.
Terry Emerson, London UK

The value of our investments are now 20% of the original sum
Ed Smith, Nottingham U
From 1998 to 2000 we were given advice from a number of sources including 2 Financial Advisers regarding the investment of a redundancy payment. We were very wary of the advice but in the end made an investment in 2 unit trusts. We appreciate that some people have lost far more but the value of the investments is now 20% of the original sum whilst the remainder left on deposit has increased by a small amount (probably less than the rate of inflation) but we still have that money. I am sorry but what money we have left is staying on deposit and my advice regarding the savings industry is to be very careful if they are offering any "golden opportunity", they are the only ones likely to make any money.
Ed Smith, Nottingham UK

Savings are a waste of time. Blow it all now and live off state benefits later. At least you won't be giving the government a huge slice of the money you paid tax on before you saved it anyway.
Phil, UK

I think the fat cats deserve their whiskers! They work hard and deserve what they get.
Alex Cheese, London

What savings? I used them all up paying Council Tax rises way over my pension.
Jade, Scotland

One really annoying thing is that building societies, who are supposedly run for their members, do not always pass on in full rate rises in their savings accounts. Trying to get a decent answer out of them produces jargon like "market conditions". This of course translates as "We won't, unless we're forced to." Very disappointing.
Bryan, London, England

Most of my "savings" are invested in my business. Thanks to Gordon Brown's sensible and far sighted changes to "taper relief" I'll get an excellent return when I sell.
John, England

I changed to rent-to-let
Terry, Epsom, England
It became apparent to me some time ago that my investments would not be adequate to support me in retirement. That's why I changed to rent-to-let instead.
Terry, Epsom, England

It would be nice if the interest rates on savings were as hastily changed as they are on my mortgage when they rise. Banks are just like any other profiteers (sorry company) they're are in it for money. If it means rewarding shareholders over their own customers they will.
Justin, UK

I get enormous return on my money. By spending it on goods that I look after and enjoy for a long time. Savings, schmavings!
Ray G, London, England

There's a company who give the top rate of interest who are fantastic. Plain and simple with no frills savings. I'm so glad I found them rather then the measly 0.0. that my high street bank gave me for interest!
Gareth, London, UK

I expect the financial advisors are still doing well though
Tom, Ipswich
I have been caught out with an endowment mortgage that will have a short fall. my pension funds are under performing, stock market collapses and a pityful return on building society funds. I expect the financial advisors are still doing well though.
Tom, Ipswich

Vintage Fender Guitars...you can't go wrong!
Tony, UK

I recently made an electronic transfer from my building society account to Goldfish to pay for a credit card bill. Although the money was taken from my account immediately, it did not reach the credit card company for a week. Up to a point, I can see why this happens for cheques, but it's a bit more difficult to see why it applies to electronic transfers. The net result were interest and late payment charges of 23.50, so I was rather less than impressed by the return.
David Anderson, Wakefield, West Yorkshire

This from a government who took 5 billion a year from pension tax relief, and whose first act after winning the election in 2001 awarded themselves whopping pay rises and generous pensions. Hypocrisy from New Labour yet again.
Gerry, Oxford, England

Blow it all and then become a burden on the state
Mark, Glasgow, UK
This is bit rich coming from politicians!! What incentive do they give us to save? Very little. If I save, I get hammered 40% tax on the interest / dividends and then VAT on anything I buy with the proceeds. And with a little savings, I will get means-tested and denied benefits. Sadly under this Government its better to head for the shops and pubs, blow it all and then become a burden on the state.
Mark, Glasgow, UK

The charges are immaterial compared to the 40% tax on most gains made or interest earned on the savings.
Dom, Hants

After being burned by both the stock market collapse and the Equitable Life fiasco I wouldn't touch the 'savings industry' again with a bargepole. Internet banking accounts give a good rate of return, and National Savings are secure, even if they returns are poor. Cash is king!
Martin, Sheffield, UK

No they do not - but this is not the point. People don't seem to want to save for goods anymore - they would prefer to have them straight away - on credit - and as a result pay much more than the face value for them.
Julie, London, UK

Return on savings? What a quaint and old-fashioned notion!
Andy D, Oxford, UK

It wouldn't be so bad if saving wasn't so complicated
John B, Gloucester, UK
It wouldn't be so bad if saving wasn't so complicated. I remember the good old days when all you had (well, paupers like me, anyway) were high interest building society accounts. I recently went into a building society to open a new savings account, and for the next 20 minutes I was given a sales pitch for every savings product they had. They even tried to sell me a mortgage, until they saw how low my salary was! Make saving less complicated and concentrate on maximising the returns.
John B, Gloucester, UK

I'm not fortunate enough to have any savings of relevance, but I definitely agree with the transparency over charges. Interest rates are complex and credit card rates are just an absolute disgrace. Lenders just wap them on and we all accept them. I wonder if I'm allowed to charge my bank 20 for writing to them about an issue that was supposedly already dealt with, and then pursue them in court for none payment - interest included!!
Joseph, UK

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27 Jul 04  |  Business
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