New-account bonus 'hard to find'

Coin burningHard-pressed savers will be lucky to find an account paying an introductory bonus this year, a consumer help website has said.

The number of savings accounts offering bonuses has shrunk sharply since a Government scheme aiming to help borrowers was launched, said Moneyfacts.
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This comes on top of the choice of savings accounts on the market having fallen since the multibillion-pound scheme to kick-start lending to households and businesses started in August.

The Funding For Lending scheme offers lenders access to cheap finance but analysts say that it has also made lenders less reliant on attracting customer deposits.

There were 470 easy access savings accounts at the start of August last year, of which 73 (16%) paid an introductory bonus, averaging 1.35%.

Now, in January, there are 416 such accounts on the market, of which 46 (11%) pay a bonus and the typical bonus rate has dropped to 1.02%, Moneyfacts said.

Meanwhile, at the start of August there were 263 savings accounts for which notice had to be given, of which 23 (9%) paid a bonus, averaging 1.02%.

By January this had dropped to 212 accounts, of which 11 (5%) paid a bonus which typically amounted to 0.96%.

Sylvia Waycot, financial expert at Moneyfacts.co.uk, said: "Providers no longer needing savers' money to prop up bank balances, thanks in part to the Government's Funding for Lending Scheme, have started streamlining their accounts.

"We now have less choice than we had four months ago, the rates are very much poorer and to add insult to injury, the introductory bonus has all but disappeared as banks shy away from attracting the attention of desperate savers.

"Every year brings new problems. Last year we worried we might forget when the bonus ended on our account and this year we will be lucky to find an account that offers a bonus."
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