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Britons run scared of banks and stash their cash at home

Savers are becoming much more cautious, with one in 10 people thinking their money is safest under the mattress, a survey from Newcastle Building Society suggests.

In light of the credit crunch and last year's run on Northern Rock, the number of people preferring to stash their cash at home has nearly trebled from 4 to 11 per cent. The figure goes as high as 15 per cent for those living in the Midlands and Wales.

In the past 12 months, the number of people investing in banks and building societies has fallen by 17 per cent, according to the research. A year ago, almost three-quarters of those surveyed would have considered banks or building societies the safest places to invest their money.

"These findings are a stark sign of the times, but they are also exacerbated by the hype over the credit crunch," says Wendy Lee at Newcastle. "Some savers now have an exaggerated view that investing their money with a building society or bank can be risky."

Confidence in banks has declined by 5 per cent over the past 12 months, with under a quarter of savers now considering them the safest home for their cash. And the number of people who are unsure where to go with their savings has almost doubled to 13 per cent. Another 19 per cent would choose not to invest with traditional financial institutions.