United Kingdom

Savers plough cash into stocks and shares ISAs 

Business is booming for investment platforms as savers who stored up extra cash over lockdown flocked to the markets to put it to work.

Investors piled into stocks and shares ISAs in the three months to June, to take advantage of a stock market rebound, and shunned rock-bottom savings rates.

During lockdown many workers who held on to their job suddenly found themselves with much more spare money as they cut down on travel and meals out.

Investors piled into stocks and shares ISAs in the three months to June, to take advantage of a stock market rebound, and shunned rock-bottom savings rates

British households were holding on to a record 29.1 per cent of their disposable income in the second quarter of the year, according to official figures.

More savers tried their luck on the markets with tax-efficient stocks and shares ISAs – Individual Savings Accounts - which allow savers to put in £20,000 per year, buy into funds or individual stocks, and reap any returns tax-free.

The total value of new investments in these ISAs shot up 71 per cent between April and June, compared to the previous three months, according to Scottish Friendly's new investor index. 

And it wasn't just seasoned investors putting more in, as the number of new stocks and shares ISAs being opened climbed by 40 per cent.

Kevin Brown, savings specialist at Scottish Friendly, said: 'Generally, spending opportunities have been limited. 

'This has led to an increase in capacity to save, as official data shows, which has resulted in a rush of new investors to stocks and shares ISAs.'

Households are faced with few options if they want to make a return on money they have squirrelled away. 

The average easy access savings account will give a return of just 0.23 per cent and the average easy-access cash ISA offers 0.35 per cent, says Moneyfacts.

In comparison, the FTSE 100 index of Britain's leading companies has jumped more than 18 per cent since March.

Dividends down 49% on last year

Investors who rely on dividends for an income have had a tough year.

Payouts by UK companies plunged 49.1 per cent in the three months to September compared to a year earlier, according to the latest Dividend Monitor from asset manager Link.

Dividends added up to £18billion - the lowest for the third quarter since 2010. 

Two-thirds of firms cut or cancelled payouts between July and September.

Link expects dividends for 2020 to total about £61.2billion, a decline of about 45 per cent. Next year, it expects payouts to bounce back by between 6 per cent and 15 per cent.

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