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The past few years have been a grim time for savers. After the Bank of England cut its base rate last month to a record low, anyone hoping to earn from their funds will be forgiven for uttering a sigh of desperation.

Among the most notable casualties have been cash Isas, with the average rate paid standing at just 0.99%, and potentially more gloomy news ahead. “Savers should brace themselves for more cuts to come,” says Rachel Springall, finance expert at Moneyfacts. Last week, NatWest became the latest bank to slash rates: its cash Isa now pays just 0.01%. But amid the gloom some solace for savers can be found at Principality Building Society, which pays online savers 1.1% on £1 and above.

However, for those who want to try and make their savings work harder there are alternatives – but with greater returns comes greater risk.

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Premium bonds

Around 23 million Britons hold almost £50bn in Premium bonds, lured by the prospect of winning between £25 and £1m in the monthly prize draw. Each bond costs £1, with a minimum investment of £100 and maximum of £50,000. Your money is 100% secure and all prizes are free of tax.

Justin Modray at Candid Financial Advice says this is a safe way of having a flutter, and today’s average prize rate of 1.25% looks reasonable. But he adds: “Don’t put too much faith in striking it rich. If you do win a prize, 93 times out of 100 it will be just £25.”

Risk rating: 2/10 Bonds pay no interest and you may never win anything.

High-interest current accounts

In a strange twist, many current accounts now pay up to 5%, far higher than cash Isas and savings accounts. Santander 123 pays 3% on balances between £3,000 and £20,000, but this will fall to 1.5% on 1 November.

“It still offers cashback on your everyday spending, but you can get better interest rates elsewhere,” says Anna Bowes at rate tracking

Nationwide FlexDirect pays 5% for 12 months on the first £2,500, but you must pay in at least £1,000 each month. TSB Classic Plus also pays 5% on up to £2,000 if you pay in £500 each month.

Risk rating: 1/10 Your cash is safe, but only a small amount attracts interest.


Science writer Hazel Muir, 49, has invested in cash Isas since their launch but now gets more than double the return by lending money through peer-to-peer (P2P) platforms.

Muir, who lives in Tunbridge Wells, gets up to 4.8% from P2P“P2P rates have also fallen, until recently you could get 6%,” she says.

Online-only P2P platforms work by taking money from savers and lending it to vetted borrowers. Zopa pays between 3.5% and 6.7%, depending on risk, while Ratesetter pays an average 5.3% over five years.

“Your money is not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), but I think that is a risk worth taking,” she says.

Risk rating: 5/10 Borrowers could default with no FSCS protection, though some platforms run contingency schemes to cover losses.


Corporate bonds issued by companies can help you beat dismal cash returns.Damien Fahy, founder of, says you can spread your risk by investing in a fund of bonds using your tax-free Isa allowance.

The Kames Investment Grade Bond currently yields 3.15% and has returned 52% over five years, according to, while the Artemis Strategic Bond yields 4.1% and has grown 42%.

Another option is a retail bond. The York Green Wind one-year bond pays a fixed 5.5% if you lend to a firm that runs a portfolio of four wind turbines.

Risk rating: 4/10 Some say bonds are over-priced and defaults are always a danger.



Stocks and shares Isa

You can invest up to £15,240 in a stocks and shares Isa this tax year, with all returns free of income tax and capital gains tax.

The FTSE 100 is up 30% over the past five years, but many fund managers have done far better, with MFM Slater Growth returning 93%, and Fundsmith Equity growing 174% – although past performance is no guarantee of future success.

“Stock markets are volatile, but in the longer run should beat most alternatives,” says Patrick Connolly at Chase de Vere. He tips Rathbone Income, Artemis Global Income, Threadneedle Global Equity Income, and M&G Property Portfolio.

Risk rating: 7/10 Shares are always risky, so spread your risk and hold on for the long-term.

Buy-to- let

Setting yourself up as a buy-to-let landlord has been one of the most rewarding investments of the past 20 years. However, former chancellor George Osborne made life harder by slapping a 3% surcharge on second home purchases, reducing wear and tear allowances and phasing out higher rate tax relief from next April. Investors also need to find a deposit, and pay for stamp duty, mortgage arrangement fees and doing up the property.

Jonathan Daines, chief executive of, says rental demand should stay strong as people struggle to get on the property ladder: “Bricks and mortar are still an attractive investment opportunity due to low returns elsewhere.”

Risk rating: 7/10 You can’t dissolve it if you need your money immediately.


Adrian Ash, head of research at gold broker, says the metal has thrashed all rivals since the start of the millennium: “It is up 465% in that time, against a 164% rise in house prices, 96% total return from the FTSE, and 55% on cash. It has also performed over the past 12 months, rising 45% against just 0.4% on cash.”

However, this supposed safe haven can be volatile; its price dropped 25% in 2013. It also pays no income, you incur trading costs and it has to be stored securely.

Risk rating: 7/10 Gold has dazzled but could be vulnerable at current high prices.

Fine wine

Fine wines are one investment you can drink to. Industry index the Liv-ex Fine Wine 100 is up 10.7% over the past year, though it trades 22% lower than five years ago.

Simon Staples, sales director, fine wine, at merchants Berry Bros & Rudd, says around £10,000 is needed to start. He recommends sticking to Old World wines, typically Bordeaux, Burgundy and champagne, but says they must be stored carefully, ideally in a humidity- and temperature-controlled warehouse. If it does not perform financially at least you can drink your losses.

Risk rating: 8/10 Beginners really have to know what they are buying.

Venture capital trusts

High-risk venture capital trusts offer tax breaks to incentivise people to invest in smaller, growing companies. Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, says you get 30% income tax relief for subscribing to new fund raisings. You can invest up to £200,000 each tax year, though you cannot save more income tax than you actually pay. Most returns are paid as tax-free dividends during the life of the VCT, Khalaf says. You can start with as little as £3,000 and should hold it for at least 10 years. “If you sell in the first five years you must repay any tax relief,” Khalaf says.

Risk rating: 9/10 High risk but the tax breaks make it worthwhile for some.

Spread betting

Instead of 1%-2% a year from cash, you could earn 5%-10% in a day from spread betting – or lose the lot. Josh Mahoney, market analyst at IG, says spread betting involves speculating on the price movement of a stock, index, commodity or currency without buying the asset itself. This allows you to speculate on the outcome of a major political event – such as the impact of Brexit on sterling or the oil price during an Opec meeting. Such betting is classified as gambling so there’s no stamp duty or capital gains tax on winnings. But, as with all gambling, the losers vastly outnumber the winners.

Risk rating: 10/10 In a few minutes you can lose more than your original deposit.

On the road that can lead to more than 12%

Amy Jackson hopes life in a VW Camper van means she will be to pay off her fixed-rate mortgage in three years. Photograph: Stephen Shepherd for the Observer

Faced with earning a meagre 0.25% from an instant access cash Isa, Amy Jackson decided to hit the road. Instead of paying £13,200 into the tax-free wrapper in March she invested in a VW Camper T5, buying the 10-year-old converted van for £11,500 and spending £1,700 on new upholstery, service, tax and insurance.

Amy, 47, an agricultural consultant, plans to keep the van for three years. “Then I’ll use the proceeds, along with my other savings, to pay off my fixed-rate mortgage.” She expects to sell the vehicle for around £11,000, but should still come out ahead on her investment.

She and partner Greg McGlothlen calculate it will save them a small fortune on holiday costs and weekends away: “We plan to explore the UK and it should save us a net £2,000 a year in flights, hotels and meals out.”

That would add up to savings of around £6,000 over three years. After deducting an estimated £700 a year for servicing, tax and insurance, this would leave her with a £1,700 “return” on a £13,200 investment, a total of 12.88%.

The return could be even greater as they also save on £35 a day boarding fees for their two dogs Sally and Seth, who holiday with them in the vanAmy has named her van “Isa” – but it is set to give her a far better run for her money than 0.25%.

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London’s million-pound homes hit hardest by Brexit

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Top-end houses in London are having a hard time to offer in the wake of the Brexit referendum, hitting prices and contributing to evidence that the capital’s home market might have peaked in the meantime.

The market for the most pricey homes was currently slowing prior to the June 23 vote and experts at UBS believe the referendum dented confidence better.


The number of houses under offer has dipped considering that the vote CREDIT: UBS
As an outcome the variety of properties under offer has fallen considering that the start of July, while the number on the marketplace without such purchaser interest has begun to climb up, and reversing sharp falls seen previously in the year.

UBS looked at the ratio of properties contained on the marketplace compared to the number that are offered based on contracts being exchanged, as an indicator of the number of buyers compared with sellers, and the quantity of time a property should invest in the marketplace prior to being offered.

The situation is most plain for homes costing more than ₤ 1.5 m, a market that is mainly London-based.

A year ago there were roughly four-and-a-half times as numerous such homes on the market as there were houses sold based on contract. That climbed up in the early months of this year and got again after the Brexit vote, with the ratio now at a brand-new high of more than 7.5 times.

By contrast, the more affordable end of the market– mainly outside London– has hardly altered, indicating buyer interest has actually not been reduced by the referendum.

The ratio for homes costing below ₤ 150,000 has remained just below one-times because February, and although the ratio for those costing between ₤ 150,000 and ₤ 250,000 has actually approached, it too remains listed below the one-times level.

UBS thinks this suggests the London housing market has been most impacted by the Brexit vote.

Its experts expect the number of deals in the capital to fall by 6pc in 2016 and 10pc in 2017, causing house prices in London to fall by 10pc by the end of 2017, before the market resumes its upward trajectory.

Home sales
The most pricey homes are hardest to offer, while cheaper homes, often outside London, are still popular CREDIT: UBS
The prediction comes as building and construction company Berkeley Group cautioned that the government’s real estate policies are harming London’s market, with increased deal expenses such as a stamp duty hike for landlords striking sales.

Restraints on building and construction are also destructive, the business said, pointing the finger at the Community Facilities Levy charged by regional councils on freshly constructed houses.

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Greece faces standoff over bailout funds after Athens fails to impose reforms

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Eurozone preachers could choose not to launch additional funds as just 2 from 15 modifications that were problem of rescue plan have actually been carried out

Klaus Regling, head of the European Stability Mechanism, claimed Greece ought to have the ability to protect temporary financial debt alleviation actions ‘soon’.


Greece is encountering one more bailout standoff with its lenders amidst records that eurozone nations will certainly choose not to launch added funds to it this month.

Athens has actually annoyed its peers in the solitary money by applying just 2 of the 15 reforms that were a problem of in 2015’s rescue bundle. EU authorities informed German everyday Handelsblatt that Greece has actually postponed privatising state properties, including in the disappointments of eurozone financing priests that will certainly go over progression on Friday.

Additional funds result from be paid out under the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), which will certainly offer Greece approximately EUR86bn (₤ 72bn) of economic aid by 2018 in return for reforms.

After accepting a very first tranche of EUR10.3 bn this springtime, which EUR7.5 bn has actually thus far been launched, the 19 financing preachers result from pay out the remainder this month however may hold back repayment for the remainder of the year. An additional financing preachers’ conference is prepared for 21 September.

A year after the situation was proclaimed over, Greece is still spiralling down.
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The gridlock record followed the head of the ESM stated at the weekend break that Greece ought to have the ability to protect a minimum of temporary financial debt alleviation procedures however just if it started applying the staying reforms.

” We have actually been dealing with these procedures and also they might be applied soon,” Klaus Regling informed Greek paper Ta Nea.

” We really hope the federal government carries out continuing to be prior activities soon,” he included. EU authorities are requiring that Athens advances with strategies to establish a brand-new privatisation fund, offer certain state possessions, as well as change its public service.

8 years right into the nation’s monetary situation, life has actually ended up being harder for many Greeks. Joblessness is the greatest in Europe and also one study in June discovered that severe hardship had actually climbed from 2.2% of the populace in 2009 to 15%– an overall of 1.6 million individuals– in 2015.

Longer-term alleviation to assist the nation lower its debilitating financial debt of 176% of GDP will certainly not adhere to up until after completion of the bailout, Regling stated. Nevertheless, the International Monetary Fund– which is not joining Greece’s 3rd rescue program– has actually urged that long-lasting alleviation consisting of financial debt mercy should take place earlier.

The Greek financing priest, Euclid Tsakalotos, cautioned recently that the nation’s following help payment might be postponed due to the fact that the federal government had actually cannot get approved for it, although he urged any kind of hold-up would certainly last “for days, not weeks”.

Greek media stated Athens dealt with a significant job to press with the very undesirable reforms as well as protect the last “frantically required” EUR2.8 bn of financing, adhered to by the begin of long-promised financial obligation restructuring talks by the end of the year.

The federal government is depending on the talks as an alleviation reward to counter a widely undesirable austerity plan consisting of costs cuts, tax obligation walks as well as pension plan decreases needed by the bailout, the paper Kathimerini claimed.

It included that the sounds originating from Brussels “talk quantities regarding eurozone nations’ self-confidence degrees” in the Greek federal government, while hindering the capacity of the head of state, Alexis Tsipras, to introduce also moderate actions in order to help individuals worst impacted by Greece’s extended recession.

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FTSE climbs on UK construction news and ahead of US jobs, but BT drops

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Telecommunications team struck by downgrade on competitors and also law problems
BT shares down in climbing market

Leading shares are relocating greater at the end of the reduced trading week, complying with much better compared to anticipated UK building numbers and also in advance of the United States work numbers later on.

British Telecom offices in Fuencarral-El Pardo district in Madrid (Spain).

British Telecom offices in Fuencarral-El Pardo district in Madrid (Spain).

Yet BT is throwing the favorable fad, down 5.45 p at 381.15 p as JP Morgan reduces its rate target from 490p to 440p and also its referral from obese to neutral. The broker, claimed BT encountered a variety of headwinds suching as enhanced competitors, merging and also law.

However experts at Exane BNP Paribas have counter disagreements, as well as continue to be purchasers:

We recognize that of BT’s brokers reduced the stock last evening pointing out countless headwinds for its share rate in the following couple of years. We differ with the large bulk of the bear disagreements advanced by this broker. BT stays our leading choice.

[On competitors] we highly question Sky strategy to buy structure Britain much more fibre framework.

We assume TalkTalk is eager to maintain paying large returns and also the firm’s annual report is currently totally tailored … We are warns regarding the influence on BT of Virgin Media’s continuous initiatives to increase its network impact. Nevertheless, we are urged by the reality that in the 18 months throughout of June 2016 (i.e. given that Virgin Media began increasing its network), Openreach lines in solution raised by around 51,000 despite the fact that Virgina’s network impact broadened by 428,000.

[On merging] we believe Openreach will certainly not be divided from BT primarily since: (i) Ofcom watches out for a split creating BT’s Pension Trustee to require considerable added top-up repayments; (ii) a split will seriously postpone structure Britain far better repaired broadband facilities.

Independently, hurt by all the phone calls for far better broadband connection, Ofcom states it wants to a person besides BT as well as Virgin Media to construct fiber to a big percentage of Britain in the following couple of years (the regulatory authority believes 40% of the UK is a great target). Ofcom has actually continuously claimed this is as vital as changing Openreach. The ‘carrot’ for prospective capitalists is much easier accessibility to BT’s air ducts and also posts. Yet likewise the ‘stick’, we assume, will certainly be permitting BT to bill even more for wholesaling accessibility to Openreach. We will certainly understand if our sight is right later on this year (Ofcom appointment paper) since the regulatory authority’s brand-new prices regimen need to remain in area by April 2017.

Somewhere else Carnival has actually gone down 124p to ₤ 35.42 after Morgan Stanley relocated from equivalent weight to undernourished, while housebuilders have actually come under stress as the current solid UK financial information indicate feasible price surges as opposed to cuts. Persimmon is down 34p at ₤ 18.36 as well as Taylor Wimpey has actually dropped 3p to 162.6 p.

The industry has actually likewise been daunted by remarks from retirement community professional McCarthy & Stone, which stated it had actually seen raised terminations complying with the Brexit ballot. Its shares have actually shed 11% to 185.7 p.

Overall however, the FTSE 100 has actually included 34.45 indicate 6781.42, with protective stocks such as drugs and also power firms sought after. Hikma is 57p greater at ₤ 21.35 as well as National Grid is 20p much better at 1060.5 p.

Lower down the marketplace safe and secure repayments team Eckoh has actually plunged 27% to 35.75 p after a revenue caution, partially because of set you back over-runs in its United States purchase as well as a modification in its prices version. Residence broker N +1 Singer claimed:

The team’s chances have actually not decreased (sales pipe stays significant) and also our company believe the medium-term development expectation continues to be extremely healthy and balanced … However, we identify that today’s information is frustrating which actions will certainly need to be required to reconstruct financier self-confidence.

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Eurozone consumer spending slows but exports rise

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Weak point in residential costs most likely to trigger more activity from the European Central Bank
Steel mill in Meitingen, Germany


German and also French federal governments are not anticipated to enhance investing in advance of basic political elections following year.

Solid export sales conserved the eurozone from torpidity in the 2nd quarter of the year as financial investment slowed down and also residential customers kept back on investing.

Numbers revealed exports from the 19-member money bloc enhanced 1.1%, after going stale in the initial quarter.

However this rise in sales abroad was countered by level financial investment, lowered accumulations of items, stalled federal government costs as well as just partially greater customer investing that limited the total development price to 0.3%.

Economic experts stated the absence of a solid inspiration from residential investing would likely to tax European Central Bank principal Mario Draghi to increase his assistance for the eurozone economic situation when he holds an interview on Thursday.

Karen Ward, primary European financial expert at HSBC, claimed the a lot more thorough failure of GDP development in the most recent numbers revealed that customer costs, the essential motorist of development for much of the last eighteen months, reduced as the increase from ow oil rates discolored.

” Investment is most likely to continue to be lacklustre because of weak worldwide profession and also political unpredictability suching as Brexit. So the 2nd fifty percent of the year is most likely to be slow,” she stated.

The UK’s mandate ballot, a collection of terrorist cases as well as the recurring evacuee dilemma have actually made customers in the eurozone careful of making big acquisitions as well as a wide downturn in international profession is most likely to damage exports.

However the German and also French federal governments are not anticipated to improve costs in advance of basic political elections following year, leaving customers as well as export sectors to create development.

Germany, which has actually reported a document profession excess for the in 2014, has actually currently intended a well balanced allocate 2017 that will certainly do little to increase much-needed public framework financial investment.

France, which has actually restricted extent to increase costs without more breaching EU spending plan regulations, has actually tried to raise work as well as GDP development with a collection of liberalising reforms.

Bert Colijn, elderly eurozone economic expert at ING Financial Markets, stated with exports to crucial trading companions like the UK under stress, the eurozone had “little left in the storage tank to improve development in the last months of the year”.

He claimed: “Consumption can recoup rather, however no wonders could be anticipated with deteriorating work development. It for that reason promises that development will certainly reduce rather even more in the months in advance.”.

Generally, the eurozone economic situation expanded by 0.3% in the 3 months throughout of June, in accordance with initial price quotes as well as by 1.6% over the previous year. Development in the initial quarter was modified down a touch to 0.5% from 0.6% and also economic experts anticipated that the remainder of the year would certainly show hard going with companies and also home investing.

Howard Archer, primary European financial expert at IHS Global Insight, stated the 1.5% development he has actually booked for this year would certainly not be duplicated in 2017, when development was anticipated to go down to 1.2%.

Draghi will certainly offer his judgment on the most up to date eurozone numbers on Thursday at the ECB’s normal interview in Frankfurt.

Ewen Cameron Watt, elderly supervisor at BlackRock Investment Institute, claimed Draghi ought to pump a lot more funds right into the eurozone economic climate as well as expand the variety of devices made use of by the ECB to respond to a stagnation over the following year.

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