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NS&I revised deposit target means best buy savings ‘likely to hang around’

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The Treasury has revised NS&I’s net financing target which means it can accommodate a higher level of customer deposits which should ensure its best buy deals remain available.

The 2020/21 net financing target has been increased from £6bn (plus or minus £3bn) to £35bn (plus or minus £5bn) to “reflect government finance requirements arising from Covid-19”.

Essentially this means it can receive or retain increased deposits or interest from customers over the financial year.

It comes as its provisional Q1 2020/21 results reveal NS&I delivered £14.5bn of net financing in the first three months of the year, overshooting its £9bn target for the whole year.

For Sarah Coles, personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, this means NS&I’s market-leading savings rates are likely to stick around for a while yet.

She said: “NS&I has been a ray of light in an increasingly gloomy easy access savings market, and today’s news means it will continue to shine though the crisis.

“It has been single-handedly holding up rates in the easy access savings market. Its income bonds offer by far the best rate on the market – at 1.16%, while the Direct Saver has anchored a number of banks at around 1%. And while other banks have popped up from time to time, nobody else has the capacity to cope with the huge surge in lockdown saving.”

Last month reported that savers were flocking to NS&I as savings rates had been chopped across the board. However, customers reported experiencing big delays in money appearing in new accounts, long call wait times and problems uploading ID.

Coles added that concerns were raised that NS&I – the government’s savings arm – might attract so much cash that it would be forced to cut rates, and that the rest of the market would follow suit.

Another concern focused on NS&I’s value indicator target which has been suspended for a further three months to 30 September 2020 to reflect the ongoing exceptional market conditions.

She said: “NS&I isn’t the cheapest way for the government to raise cash – because it’s exceptionally cheap to borrow right now. NS&I has a value-for-money target that stops it from offering rates that make it much more expensive than borrowing. The reason why savings rates had held up so far was that the government had suspended the value-for-money target between April and June.

“As July rolled around, there were concerns that NS&I would be forced to hit the value-for-money target again, and cut rates. So, it’s brilliant news for savers that the government has suspended the target until the end of September. There’s more chance these competitive rates will be around for a while yet.”

NS&I added that the net financing target may be subject to further revision during the year, depending on the treasury’s funding requirements.

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