James Daley: Bank British, and you can sleep easy - Spend & Save - Money - The Independent

James Daley: Bank British, and you can sleep easy

Sixteen months on from the collapse of Northern Rock, the question on everyone's lips is still – where will my money be safe? And as Britain's biggest banks shed billions from their market values this week, it's still not a question to which many people feel they've found the answer.

In my opinion, however, if you've got your money with a reputable UK-based institution, there's nothing to worry about. Certainly, no one with money in Royal Bank of Scotland, NatWest, Lloyds, Halifax or Bank of Scotland need lose any sleep about the hammering their share prices took over the past week.

Aside from the fact that all of these banks are protected by the UK Financial Services Compensation Scheme – which guarantees the first £50,000 of any customer's deposits – RBS (which also owns NatWest) is now 70 per cent-owned by the Government. It's inconceivable that it could be left to go bust – because the Government will get much better value by simply taking over the remaining 30 per cent and rolling it in with Northern Rock.

The same can be said for Lloyds (which has acquired Halifax and Bank of Scotland). The Government now owns 43 per cent of Lloyds, so would be sure to step in and take over the rest were its shares to continue collapsing.

As for HSBC, this is a strong global business. The UK represents only a small proportion of its operations, so there's nothing to worry about there. The same goes for Santander, which owns Abbey, Alliance & Leicester and Bradford & Bingley.

Of the big UK banks, that leaves Barclays, which rejected the Government's offer of investment last year. This, theoretically, leaves it a little more vulnerable than its peers, which is why its shares fell faster than its rivals' this week. But Barclays is in relatively good financial shape, and is well placed to weather the storm if investors regain their confidence in the bank. If the worst comes to the worst, however, it still seems highly unlikely that the Government could let Barclays go bust – the consequences would be disastrous.

If you've got your money with UK branches of European banks, you are taking on a slightly greater degree of risk than by staying at home. In the first instance, your money will be protected by the compensation scheme of the country where your bank is domiciled (although the UK scheme will top this up to ensure that the first £50,000 of your savings is paid back if your bank was to go bust). Each country's depositor protection scheme is ultimately only as strong as the government that stands behind it.

Hence, if Bank of Ireland were to go bust while looking after your money, you'd have to hope that the Irish government could meet its promise to repay you. For one bank, it might be OK, but there's a question mark over whether it would be able to pay out if its entire banking system collapsed.

So, if you want to sleep easy at night, my advice is to keep your money in a British bank or building society, and don't put more than £50,000 with any one institution. Although there may be higher rates offered by non-UK banks, it's important to remember that these higher rates come with a greater risk.

j.daley@independent.co.uk

Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Travel
travel
News
The ecological reconstruction of Ikrandraco avatar is shown in this illustration courtesy of Chuang Zhao. Scientists on September 11, 2014 announced the discovery of fossils in China of a type of flying reptile called a pterosaur that lived 120 millions years ago and so closely resembled those creatures from the 2009 film, Avatar that they named it after them.
SCIENCE
Life and Style
tech
Sport
David Moyes and Rio Ferdinand
FootballRio Ferdinand on why the former manager failed at United
Arts and Entertainment
Matisse: The Cut-Outs exhibition attracted 562,000 visitors to the Tate Modern from April to September
art
Life and Style
Models walk the runway at the Tom Ford show during London Fashion Week Spring Summer 2015
fashionLondon Fashion Week 2014
News
Kenny G
news
News
peopleThe black actress has claimed police mistook her for a prostitute when she kissed her white husband
News
i100
Life and Style
techIndian model comes with cricket scores baked in
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £280 - £320 p/d - 6 months

    £280 - £320 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

    Senior BA - Insurance **URGENT**

    £400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

    Training Coordinator / Resource Planner - City, London

    £35000 - £38000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Training Coordinator / Pl...

    Data Governance Manager (Solvency II) – Contract – Up to £450 daily rate, 6 month (may go Permanent)

    £400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently looking...

    Day In a Page

    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week
    The fall of Rome? Cash-strapped Italy accused of selling its soul to the highest bidder

    The fall of Rome?

    Italy's fears that corporate-sponsored restoration projects will lead to the Disneyfication of its cultural heritage
    Glasgow girl made good

    Glasgow girl made good

    Kelly Macdonald was a waitress when she made Trainspotting. Now she’s taking Manhattan
    Sequins ahoy as Strictly Come Dancing takes to the floor once more

    Sequins ahoy as Strictly takes to the floor once more

    Judy Murray, Frankie Bridge and co paired with dance partners
    Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

    Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

    Alexander Wang pumps it up at New York Fashion Week
    The landscape of my imagination

    The landscape of my imagination

    Author Kate Mosse on the place that taught her to tell stories