Hard-pressed savers offered help with new market-leading bond

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Hard-pressed savers have been offered some help in the Budget as the Chancellor announced that a new market-leading bond will be launched next month.

NS&I (National Savings and Investments) will offer a new three-year investment bond with a rate of 2.2% from April.

But some experts described the rate as "disappointing", and said savers taking out the deal could still struggle to achieve real returns.

The bond was previously unveiled in the Autumn Statement, with Chancellor Philip Hammond confirming the rate on Wednesday.

The deal will be available for 12 months from April and it will be open to savers aged 16 and over who want to save between £100 and £3,000 over the next three years.

Experts said the fixed-rate savings market generally has seen some improvements since the deal was first announced in the Autumn Statement.

At that time, the best paying three-year bond had a rate of 1.63%.

Rachel Springall, a finance expert at website Moneyfacts, said NS&I's 2.2% rate matches a three-year bond rate now on offer from Atom Bank, which also pays 2.2%.

She said: "With Atom Bank savers can invest from £50 and all the way up to £100,000, whereas NS&I has a much lower upper limit of £3,000."

For savers who want to put money away for five years, Atom Bank also has a deal paying a higher rate of 2.4%, she said.

Ms Springall said that with rising living costs expected to have a growing impact in the coming months, it is going to be very difficult for savers with money sitting in a cash account to get a decent return in the years ahead.

Kate Smith, head of pensions at Aegon UK, described the £3,000 limit on the new bond as "meagre".

And Maike Currie, investment director for personal investing at Fidelity International, said: "While this may be a market-leading rate, anyone saving into the new investment bond will struggle to achieve a real return."

Anna Bowes, director of website SavingsChampion.co.uk, said: "It's welcome news that the new NS&I bond will be launched in April but disappointing that the rate is not higher, given the improvements in the wider market in the time since the bonds were originally announced, in the Autumn Statement last year."

She continued: "Of course, any better paying accounts in the current climate is good thing and with the positive movements we've been seeing in the savings market in recent months, we wouldn't be surprised if more challenger banks quickly catch up and beat the rate on offer from the NS&I bond."

NS&I is backed by the Treasury, so money held with it is 100% secure.