Examination of Witnesses

Part of Savings (Government Contributions) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:27 pm on 25th October 2016.

Alert me about debates like this

Martin Lewis:

First, there is a difference between the two. The help to buy ISA is available at 16, which is one issue. The second issue is that help to buy ISAs are limited to properties worth £250,000, or £450,000 in London, but for the lifetime ISA it is £450,000 across the country, which is a good thing.

Here’s where it gets rather complicated. You can use a help to buy ISA effectively after three months. You need £1,600 in it; that’s £1,200 in the first month, and £200 each month for two months. We have some people who have done it in two months and thirty days. We are allowing people to transfer their help to buy ISA into the lifetime ISA within the first year, which is a good rule, because it allows people to move it across and then they can put more in their lifetime ISA. However, the lifetime ISA has a one-year minimum hold before it can be used on cash, so I could have had a help to buy ISA for three years, transfer it across into the lifetime ISA and then save more money in, and then suddenly discover that I cannot buy the house that I want and have found, even though I have been saving in the help to buy ISA for three years, because I have to have held the lifetime ISA for a year.

A simple arrangement to fix that would be to ensure that the trigger-point, if you transfer a help to buy ISA into a lifetime ISA, is the start-point of the help to buy ISA, not the start-point of the lifetime ISA, so you would have had your year. Those are the types of transitional arrangements I am talking about. They are not big-picture, I think, even at this stage of a Bill Committee, and they are ones that we have had a discussion on the phone about.

The other classic thing that I would be very wary of—I will throw this in while we are talking about this—is that, as I have suggested, both these products will not be perfect. There will be unintended issues, such as the help to buy ISA issue—that it was a mortgage deposit, and some people thought it would exchange. It always was at that point, but it was revealed by the newspapers. I would strongly suggest that with both these products, there is a pre-arranged one-year review, where minor terms can be tweaked to make better products, and where we discover the things that none of the clever people who have given evidence or who are sitting around the table have thought of yet. That’s a sensible way to introduce products such as these, which are so complicated—especially the lifetime ISA—to be honest with you. Those are the types of transitional arrangements I am talking about. Forgive me, what was the second part of your question?