Brown "missed opportunity" for savers

17 March 2004
Gordon Brown could have done more to help savers and first time buyer in today's budget, according to Nationwide Building Society.

The cooperative said it is "disappointed that the chancellor has failed to take action".

Stuart Bernau, Nationwide's executive director, said: "The Chancellor has missed an opportunity to make a real difference to a wide range of people, from first time buyers to savers of all ages.

"This is surprising bearing in mind the government's stated aim of enabling all who aspire to own their home to do so, and the concerns the government has expressed over the lack of personal savings."

Before the budget was released the building society called for action on ISAs, and stamp duty.

It wanted the government to Reconsider plans to reduce the tax free savings limits in cash deposit ISAs, and abolish stamp duty land tax for first-time buyers buying properties valued at up to £150,000.

"This is a real setback for savers. Everyone should ideally have three months' income saved for a rainy day, and cash ISAs are currently the perfect place to save this. But the reduced limits mean you won't be able to put enough money in an ISA in a year to cover unexpected expenses," said M Bernau.

He added: "Rising house prices and student debt are making it more difficult for many to buy their first home and as a result, the number of first time buyers is now at its lowest level for 20 years."