Savings increase 'as Britons prepare for potential economic uncertainty'

Savers are shoring up more cash in their accounts as they prepare for the impact of an uncertain economy on their finances, a high street banking report suggests.

The British Bankers' Association (BBA) said personal deposits have been growing more strongly in recent months, and annual growth stood at 4.8% in November.

In the first 11 months of 2016, personal deposits grew by £32.4 billion collectively, compared with a £19.8 billion increase over the same period in 2015.

Meanwhile, the rate of growth in people's borrowing on credit cards, overdrafts and personal loans has slowed down, despite strong retail sales, the BBA said.

Annual growth in consumer credit - which includes these types of borrowing - fell back to around 6% in November following an annual rise of over 7% in October. The BBA said low interest rates are helping to support growth in consumer credit.

Meanwhile, the number of mortgage approvals made to home buyers was 9% lower in November than a year earlier.

Some 40,659 loans were approved for house purchase in November, marking a fall of around 9% on the 44,463 mortgages approved for this purpose in the same month of 2015.

But the number of remortgage approvals is running higher than a year ago, with 26,975 approvals for this purpose recorded in November, compared with 23,666 in the same month of 2015.

The BBA's figures also show borrowing by non-financial companies decreased by £1.2 billion in November. It said lower demand for finance may reflect companies reducing investment plans and preferring to use internal funds rather than to borrow.

Dr Rebecca Harding, the BBA's chief economist, said: "Consumer credit growth continues to be strong, despite falling back a little in November, reflecting strong retail sales in recent months.

"The reduction in interest rates in August may have boosted remortgaging approvals, with consumers looking to take advantage of the current economic conditions and lock in lower interest rates."

She said personal deposits have been growing more strongly recently "as consumers hoard cash in the absence of higher-yielding, liquid investment opportunities".

She added: "This growth in personal deposits may also suggest that consumers are looking to grow their cash reserves against potential economic uncertainties, such as an expectation of lower wage growth."