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Savers raid record £4.6bn from banks in May

  • 29/06/2023
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Households withdrew a net £4.6bn from banks and building societies last month – the highest level on record since this data started being captured in 1997.

The savings raid in the month contrasts against the £3.7bn piled into accounts in April, figures from the Bank of England’s (BoE) Money and Credit report reveal.

Experts suggest that while some savers may be moving money out of the banking sector to other investments, for some households, the figures reflect billpayers being forced to dip into savings to ride out the cost of living crisis.

Net withdrawals from easy access accounts, interest-bearing sight deposits,  increased significantly from £5.4bn in April to £11.4bn in May.

Meanwhile, savers took out £3.3bn from zero interest paying easy accounts, marking the seventh consecutive months of withdrawals after recording £4.2bn in the previous month.

In total, withdrawals from both interest-earning and zero interest instant accounts stood at £14.7bn.

Again, this could be interpreted as a sign that savvy savers are chasing higher interest rates elsewhere, but it could also mean they’re having to access cash to cover rising costs.

The BoE also revealed that the combined net flow of both household deposits in banks and building societies, together with National Savings and Investment (NS&I), amounted to -£3.8bn which it said was a “significant fall from £5.3bn in April”.

These withdrawals were partially offset by savers ploughing cash into fixed rate savings accounts, £4.9bn into time deposits, offering higher interest while £3.3bn made its way into cash ISAs. However, the ISA figure fell from its record high of £8.9bn in April.

Sarah Coles, head of personal finance at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “Overall, when you factor everything going into and out of savings accounts and NS&I, we withdrew £3.8bn in May.

“This was always a risk at this stage in the cost of living crisis, nowthat so many people have cut every cost they possibly can and are being forced to raid their emergency savings. We know that those on above average incomes still have lockdown savings to call on, but if the spending squeeze goes on for much longer, these will be worn away entirely.”

Credit card borrowing

The BoE figures also revealed net borrowing on consumer credit by individuals decreased from £1.5bn in April to £1.1bn in May.

Charlotte Nixon, mortgage and financial planning expert at Quilter, said these figures provided the “only small ray of light”.

“In this interest rate environment, it would be a real worry to start to see this shoot up. People can quickly find themselves in a dangerous debt spiral, which can become incredibly hard to come out of,” she added.

Ashley Webb, UK economist at Capital Economics, said: “We suspect this will decline further in the coming months as the growing drag from higher interest rates may mean households cut back on their borrowing and spending.”

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