Following the collapse of the Icelandic banks Kaupthing and Landsbanki, the Government raised the amount of savings protection for individual savers from £35,000 to £50,000 in October last year, which would be paid through the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).
Instability has racked the UK banking industry since September 2007 with the nationalisation of Northern Rock, part-nationalisation of Lloyds Banking Group (including HBOS) and RBS, the collapse of Bradford & Bingley and the bailout of Alliance & Leicester by Spanish bank Santander.
Maximum compensation limits (and how to make the most of it)
All of your savings are covered up to £50,000 by the FSCS as long as they are not all held with the same savings compensation licence (see link at the top of the page). The limit on joint accounts is £100,000. These limits do not apply to money held with National Savings & Investments or Northern Rock where all of your money is 100% guaranteed by the Government.
• Foreign banks compensation limits
These limits do not apply if your bank is a foreign bank operating in the UK with a higher compensation limit in its home country. For example, as of September 2008, the deposits of the Post Office and Irish banks operating in the UK such as Anglo-Irish Bank, Allied Irish Bank and Bank of Ireland, are 100% covered following an increase in compensation from the Irish government.
• Essential advice: spread your savings
Due to the rule on different savings accounts with one provider, it is best to spread your savings over as many savings institutions as possible. Yet a series of mergers, takeovers, joint ventures and subsidiaries has created a confusing web for savers to negotiate. And this would have huge implications were your savings provider to go bust. If you had three accounts with the same banking group – which does not have separate compensation licences for each of its brands – instead of getting three compensation claims of £50,000, totalling £150,000, you would only get back £50,000. However, if the bank is separately authorised by the Financial Services Authority then you would get a separate compensation limit.