I received a letter from my bank the other day. No, it wasn’t a dire warning. We manage to keep out of penury, thank God.
Not that the banks mind you getting behind these days; they actively encourage us into debt – for the fat fees on overdrafts. My wife was even asked, down at the branch before it closed, if she fancied a mortgage. It had taken a lifetime to get rid of the last one!
No, this note was on friendly, first-name terms - to inform me our humble savings account was to have its interest rate ‘reduced’! I didn’t think it could get smaller, without disappearing! This was, apparently, in line with what other banks were doing.
When I checked details, our interest was being halved – from a poultry 0.20 per cent to a risible 0.10 per cent. Looking over the (‘non-payment’) accounts listed, only one approached a full 1 per cent and had to have £50,000 invested.
We’re with the NatWest. I’m glad they’ve dropped the ‘caring bank’ title after closing their busy, well staffed branches. But they’re all the same, it seems. They want us to pay monthly fees for keeping our money and making profits from it.
Older readers and savers might recall those fulfilling days of 5 per cent on such sensible saving; then tax-friendly ISAs. Interest rates even rose once to 15 per cent when, unfortunately, our mortgages were hammered.
I even fondly remember my first account, at our friendly Trustees Savings Bank, when proudly taking in my piggy bank as a child.
Perhaps reliably run community credit unions are the answer, to help struggling families get by safely. Otherwise, the young are encouraged to borrow, borrow, borrow . . .
It sounds like that first big Pools winner, who was going to “spend, spend, spend”. She ended up tragically, as I recall.
* Books by Roy, fiction and memoir, are on Kindle or in paperback. Visit royedmonds-blackpool.com or Waterstones.