Money

We Asked People If Osborne's Saving Scheme Is Actually Worthwhile

Mostly the answers seem to be, "I can't afford to save" and "What would I be saving for?"
March 16, 2016, 3:23pm

(Photo by Gordon Jolly)

George Osborne loves to announce things, even things we have already heard. In Wednesday's budget he re-announced the "Help to Save" scheme, a plan aimed at helping the poorest to save, originally proposed by the last Labour government under the name "Saving Gateway". Scrapping that was one of the first moves of the coalition government in 2010. Now having made some more people poor, Osborne is bringing it back.

The Help to Save scheme will help employees on in-work benefits who put aside £50 a month by giving them a bonus of 50 percent after two years and worth up to £300 a year.

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David Cameron has really high hopes for the scheme saying it will "transform life chances". But Owen Smith, the shadow work and pensions secretary, was a Debbie Downer about it, saying, "Low income families are going to struggle to have enough money to make it to the end of the week, let alone save for the future."

The scheme comes partly after government research showed that almost half of UK adults have less than £500 saved in case of an emergency. But is that is that really true? We asked some people on the street what they made of all this.

Lorie, 55, café owner

Is saving something that you do?
Not really. I'm not much of a saver but I'm a builder of things, I spend to make rather than just hoard. You have to be in the flow of things, participating. I'm not sure whether it's a good plan, probably not.

Has that philosophy worked out for you so far?
I'm in the middle of figuring that out.

Is saving something that you may potentially do in the future?
No, probably not. I mean I have plans for how I'm not going to work for my entire life, plans that don't really include setting aside money. I have a property in Italy so I have money there and I own this café.

What do you think of the "new savers" scheme?
I don't really know if £300 a month is going to make much a difference in people's lives.

Toxi, 27, works at a creative agency

Do you save money?
I have a habit of saving all of my change into a jar and then when it's full I will use it to buy a new vinyl record.

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Do you also save money into a bank account? Or it is just the jar?
Yeah, on a monthly basis I will take a proportion of my earnings into another account. It's become a habit now, especially as my girlfriend has always saved a lot of money and my parents have always pushed me to save too. I used to have a really bad habit of spending, so I thought I should try and be more conscientious.

Do you find it hard to save?
Yeah because of course everything costs money – there are not that many activities you can do for free these days. But usually I'm able to save some of my pay cheque.

What do you think of the government's 'Help to Save' scheme?
It's always good to teach people to save because if you want to buy a house or take out a mortgage it's important to learn those habits.

Caroline, 24, music management

Do you save money?
I have always tried to save as much as possible. When I was younger I used to live in a village in Devon so I didn't have anything to spend my money on, and I would just save it all. I've just carried on from there. Also my parents are both accountants, so they have always taught me to save.

What was the last thing you saved for?
A holiday I think. I'm also saving for renting in the future; keeping back some money means that I have a fund that I can quickly move with.

Have your savings ever covered an unexpected expense?
Car expenditures. That's something that crops up out of nowhere and you think, 'OMG I need money quickly'.

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Do you think £300 extra pounds a year from the government is likely to "transform life chances"?
I think it would be helpful. It doesn't seem like loads, but it would be more than enough for some people.

Jade, 24, business owner

Is saving something you do?
I try to save for rainy days. I had a baby six months ago so I've been saving more since then. Before that the small amounts of money I saved would go on things like clothes and prosecco.

Do you find it hard to save?
I think it's always hard to save - when you're younger, you are saving to go out on a Friday night, and then as you get older, you're saving for a house.

What are you saving for now?
Last week the dishwasher broke down, so the money I've been saving went on fixing that.

Do you have a savings account?
No, I just save at home, that's the easiest way to do it. Just buy a tin and put your money in there.

What do you think of the government's 'Help to Save' scheme?
It depends on whether people can actually afford to save on the money they earn. I've been on benefits and I don't think you could save £50 a month. For a little while I got employment support allowance and I think that worked out at £45 a week - there is no way I could save on top of that. I don't see that working out unless people go without electricity or food.

William, 48, producer

Do you save money regularly?
Yes, as much as possible. You should start saving before you have any money. It's a form of resistance; you have to stop believing that the more you consume the more you have. So your mindset goes, I don't need that magazine right now or that extra pint at the pub. You can save that way.

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Do you find it difficult to save money?
I don't think it's difficult at all. Everything is a question of desire – if you really work on saving for something, you will probably have more money left over than you planned on saving originally.

What was the last thing you saved for?
Recording equipment – old reel-to-reel tape recorders.

Polly, 22, jazz singer; Boz, 22, jazz drummer

Is saving something you do?
Polly: My friends have told me to save since I've started working two jobs, as a way to be more independent, but generally I'm really bad at saving money.

Would you like to be saving more?
I don't know. What would I be saving for? I don't mean to get dark but a friend of mine recently died in an accident - in the aftermath of it all, a mutual friend of ours who saves a lot began to talk to me about the money he was saving and if it was actually worth the hassle, as you never know how long you will be around for to spend it.

So spend the money you have while you have it?
Yeah I think that philosophy is part of my family; we all enjoy life and are not that careful with money. My dad told me that when he dies there would be no money left for me. He said to me, 'Would you rather have a good time with me now or have a shit ton of money when I'm gone?' I'd rather spend it with him.

How about you, Boz?
Boz: I'm pretty shit at saving money.

Would you like to be saving?
Yes, I would like to, so I didn't have to work so much during summer and I could go away. Realistically I could be saving money by cutting down on things like cups of coffee but it's easier said than done.

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What do you think of the government asking low earners to save?
There are bigger issues and the government is sort of fucking it.

@ameliadimz

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