The government has yet to make good a Conservative party manifesto pledge to encourage saving and investment, according to a survey.
A survey of visitors to the F&C investment trust website during October showed 46 per cent felt it was too early to say if the party had delivered the manifesto pledge, while 42 per cent felt the government had not delivered on the commitment.
F&C Investment said the position of the 46 per cent was possibly vindicated by the announcement in late October that a Junior ISA would be created to replace the scrapped Child Trust Fund. Eight per cent of respondents to the survey felt the government had fulfilled the pledge and four per cent felt it had done so to some extent.
There has been mixed news for savers since the coalition government took office in May, F&C noted, with the curtailment of pension tax relief affecting some higher earners but with 2011 set to be the first year the Individual Savings Account (ISA) limit will increase in line with inflation.
Head of corporate affairs at F&C, Jason Hollands, said: “We welcome the news that the government is to develop a voluntary tax-free savings account for children. With the cap on university fees expected to be removed, such a scheme will play an important role in helping parents, guardians and grandparents to prepare children for potentially significant future financial costs, such as higher education or getting on the first rung of the housing ladder.”
Hollands said the extension of the ISA regime to children, particularly if stripped of some of the restrictions associated with Child Trust Funds, such as a low cap on annual contributions, would be welcomed by parents and encourage strong participation by the financial services industry.
A savings culture
During the party conference season this autumn, Fidelity Investment Managers set out how it thought the government could promote a savings culture. The firm said a single annual cap on tax-advantaged savings should be set to encompass both pension and ISA savings to improve simplicity and flexibility.
Earlier this year, the Department for Work and Pension (DWP) commissioned the National Institute for Economic and Social Research (NIESR) to produce a report on people’s short-term attitude to spending and saving, affecting savings.
The NIESR report looked at ‘myopia’ in the context of economic decision-making, defined as: ‘time-inconsistent preference that exhibit a present bias in consumption’, or a bias towards spending money rather than saving it.
The research found that this bias leads to more use of unsecured debt, delaying retirement saving and longer working to make up for a lack of savings. Conversely, a self-awareness of this tends to increase saving in pensions schemes that are locked-away until retirement or fixed-term savings.
Making pension schemes available to the population will increase private savings, increase labour supply in early life and bring forward retirement, the report concluded.
Co-author of the report, Justin van de Ven, said: “The view that at least some people are affected by myopia when planning for their retirement was cited as one of the motivating factors behind the pension reforms that will be introduced in the UK from 2012. But little is currently understood about how myopia affects retirement savings decisions in a realistic policy environment.”
To encourage saving for retirement, the government announced on 27 October that it would go ahead with automatic enrolment in a pension scheme for employees earning £7,475 or more, in line with the income tax threshold from 2011.
© Fair Investment Company Ltd