There's £200m buried in Post Office savings

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The Independent Online

Turning away from your own money sounds foolhardy. Yet many of us leave our hard-earned cash behind when we move house.

Turning away from your own money sounds foolhardy. Yet many of us leave our hard-earned cash behind when we move house.

One in six people forget to contact their financial providers with details of a change of address, according to National Savings & Investments (NS&I).

According to the Unclaimed Assets Register, we're neglecting a whopping £15bn in UK bank and building society accounts, unclaimed shares and personal pension plans.

Since launching its own free tracing service three years ago, NS&I has unearthed buried treasure amounting to £15.2m belonging to its customers. Thousands have come forward to claim old premium bond winnings (£6.6m traced), savings certificates (£5.1m) and guaranteed income bonds (£1m).

It seems, though, that we're not so bothered about our old savings accounts. In the same three years, only £84,300 has been traced in NS&I's ordinary accounts, the original Post Office accounts that closed for good in July this year. This leaves some £200m idling.

Although most of the 10.5 million now-defunct ordinary accounts have £10 or less in them, nearly 500,000 have balances of around £800. Earlier in the year, NS&I wrote to everyone with more than £100 left to suggest they switch the money to its new easy-access savings account.

The response has been disappointing. An NS&I spokes-man says the company is considering whether to write to customers again. Naturally, it is keen for savers to funnel their cash into its new savings account. But anybody discovering forgotten funds should cast an eye elsewhere before simply committing to NS&I.

To be fair, the easy-access replacement offers much better rates than its predecessor. At its closure in July, the ordinary account paid a miserly 0.95 per cent on sums from £50 to £5,000. Today, NS&I savers earn 2 per cent between £100 and £999; 3.5 per cent between £1,000 and £4,999; and 3.8 per cent between £5,000 and £9,999. On sums above £10,000, you could earn up to 4.55 per cent.

But as our tables show, much better rates can be had with easy access elsewhere. On £1,000, for example, Bradford & Bingley's e-savings account pays 5.38 per cent. But be aware that such top-paying accounts are internet rather than post-office based - a factor NS&I hopes will work in its favour.

And if you haven't yet opened one, don't forget that a mini cash individual savings account lets your money grow tax-free.

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