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Savings (Government Contributions) Bill - debates in Parliament

Published Thursday, November 10, 2016

Covers debates in Parliament on the legislation to introduce the Lifetime ISA and Help to Save Accounts announced in Budget 2016

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This Paper summarises the proceedings of the Savings (Government Contributions) Bill during its committee stages.

The Bill follows a Government consultation on reforming pension tax relief with the aim of strengthening the incentive to save. In his Budget 2016 speech, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, announced no compulsory changes to the pension tax system, saying it was “clear that there was no consensus.” However, the Government committed itself to introduce measures to encourage saving through:

  • an increase in the annual amount an individual can save in an ISA from £15,240 to £20,000;
  • a new Lifetime ISA (LISA), which could be opened by people aged between 18 and 40 from April 2017. Individuals would be able to save up to £4,000 each year and receive a government bonus of 25%. The money could be used to buy a first home worth up to £450,000 or withdrawn after age 60. Funds withdrawn for other purposes would attract a 5% charge and lose the government bonus;
  • new Help-to-Save accounts for people in receipt of Universal Credit with minimum weekly household earnings equivalent to 16 hours at the National Living Wage, or those in receipt of Working Tax Credit. This would work by providing a government bonus on up to £50 of monthly savings. The bonus would be paid after two years, with an option to save for a further two years. There would be no restrictions on how the funds were used. (HC Deb 16 March 2016 c966; HM Treasury, Budget 2016, HC 901, March 2016, para 1.108-12)

HM Treasury provided further details in a Lifetime ISA factsheet and design note. The Bill introduces these measures.

While there has been a general welcome for new measures to encourage and support saving, concerns have been raised about the potential for the LISA to undermine auto-enrolment. Questions include:

  • the overall impact on retirement savings;
  • how and whether individuals with limited resources will choose between saving in a LISA or a workplace pension;
  • whether the interests of LISA savers will be protected with regulation on charges and governance comparable to pensions;
  • whether LISAs will have an investment strategy appropriate for long-term saving;
  • whether the choice of Help to Save accounts and LISAs will confuse inexperienced savers.

The Savings (Government Contributions) Bill was published on 6 September 2016 and had its Second Reading on 17 October 2016. It applies to the whole of the UK. The impact assessment to the Bill was published on 17 October 2016. The Library Briefing Paper for Second Reading debate is CBP-7697.

The Government made no amendments to the Bill. Opposition parties proposed a number of amendments, some of which were pushed to a vote but none of which were accepted.

 

 

 

Commons Briefing papers CBP-7748

Authors: Tim Edmonds; Djuna Thurley

Topics: Financial services, Housing, Pensions

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