Ireland's high street banks have become a very safe place to put your money. Two weeks ago, the Irish government raised its guarantee on all bank deposits to €100,000 (£78,000). Now it's gone one step further. It has promised to guarantee saving deposits 100% at six retail banks Allied Irish Bank, Bank of Ireland, Anglo Irish Bank, Irish Life and Permanent, Irish Nationwide Building Society and the Educational Building Society with no limits.
This is great news for savers, on both sides of the Irish Sea. Last week we told you you could take advantage of the €100,000 limit by putting your money in the British branch of an Irish bank and it seems that the new deal also offers British savers the same protection as Irish savers: switch your money to an Irish bank and you'll get 100% of their savings protection from the Irish government. Irish bankers, as you would expect, are particularly cheerful about this. As Michael Fingleton, chief executive of the Irish Nationwide building society, tells the BBC: "We'd be very happy to accept deposits." Irish Nationwide has just two branches in the UK, in Belfast and London. However, Bank of Ireland, AIB and Anglo Irish all have more substantial branch networks. Note, too, that UK Post Office savings accounts are actually with the Bank of Ireland, which offers a very competitive 5.75% on its eSaver account.
At present, the only bank in Britain with an unlimited guarantee, aside from National Savings & Investments, is the state-owned Northern Rock which also offers 5.75% on its eSaver account. Savings with other banks are currently only protected up to £35,000, although Gordon Brown is under pressure to to lift it higher and has already said that it will soon move to £50,000. Anyone with more money than that in a UK high street bank might like to consider moving it into the hands of the Irish for now.
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