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:

It doesn’t, and some people should be paying off their debts, which again is a problem I mentioned earlier, especially with the Help to Save scheme. I would stretch Help to Save a little lower and allow younger people to engage in the scheme as well as people who work fewer hours but do work. If I were in charge, I would bring it lower down the net. I agree with you on that point.

The problem about the people who do not auto-enrol going into lifetime ISAs when they should auto-enrol is that products, once they become commercial—effectively Help to Save is not because it is from NS&I, but the lifetime ISA is—are sold, and they are sold to encourage people to engage. Therefore, you have competing sales messages.

That goes back to my original point of mandating messages at each point in the journey towards getting it to try to block people out. The person in charge of lifetime ISA savings at one of the big banks is incentivised by how many lifetime ISA savings he brings in and his staff, some way down the line, will be incentivised—or at least their jobs will be contingent on it—to get people to bring in lifetime ISA savings. They will not have a vested interest in telling you to put money in your pension instead, so you need to make sure that they cannot avoid doing so.

That is a subtle point, but it is about misprioritising. Every single product we have on the market, from credit cards to savings accounts and bank accounts, misprioritises someone’s finances if used incorrectly. That is not a reason for not doing the product, but this is the joyous point: we are creating a new product in our nice internet and app-based era where it is rather easy to mandate people to give certain messages. That is why I suggest you do so, in a way that you could not when everything was individually sold by incentivised sales staff sitting in a closed-room office of a bank branch, as it was 20 years ago. Now, most of these things can be automated, so make them automated.