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Hardy savers defy credit crunch

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Almost half of the population have managed to continue to set money aside on a regular basis, a figure that has remained constant for the last three quarters, according to National Savings and Investments (NS&I).

Despite the expectation that savings levels might drop this autumn, the British population managed to maintain the amount of money set aside with saving levels averaging 6.4% of income in both summer and autumn 2008.

The population’s longer term savings behaviour seems to be more of a concern, as the average amount saved as a percentage of income has declined. The amount saved as a percentage of income has fallen every autumn since 2005 (7.16%) to its lowest autumn figure (6.4%) since the quarterly savings survey began – in contrast, income levels have steadily increased.

The survey suggests that this decline may continue; 45% of the population think that they are less likely to set money aside in the coming three months, compared to 33% this time last year. Still, over the next year a quarter of people say they are more likely to save money.

Regular savers remain committed, however, increasing the amount that they put away. This quarter it is more than 17% higher than autumn 2004 (£191.50 from £163.40), almost double the percentage increase in average income, 8.9%. While this is positive, it is a concern that the amount in pounds set aside by regular savers dipped from summer (£193.07) to autumn 2008 (£191.50).

Dax Harkins, senior savings strategist from NS&I, said: “It is encouraging that in these uncertain times the population has managed to keep steady the percentage of income it set aside earlier in the year. However, the downward trend in savings over time is worrying as more than a third of savers currently do not have enough in savings to cover an emergency. It is now more important than ever both to take control of spending and to have an emergency fund set aside.”

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