That rainy day has arrived: Scots are saving less than ever

SCOTTISH savings levels have slumped to a record low as incomes fall and anxiety builds over the financial outlook, new reports show.

The average Scot now saves 86 a month, equivalent to 6.56 per cent of the average monthly income, according to research published today by National Savings & Investments (NS&I).

The government-backed savings bank said the figure was the lowest recorded for autumn since the survey began in 2004. It compared with average savings of almost 93.85 in summer 2010 and a peak of almost 100 a month in the autumn of 2005.

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However, the amount that Scots save each month is higher than the 82.92 UK average, also a record low for the period since the survey began.

NS&I believes the drop was due to declining income levels in Scotland over the past year. Scottish monthly take home pay has averaged 1,309 over the last three months, down from 1,424 over the same period in 2009.

The number of Scots putting money aside for a rainy day has also dropped, according to NS&I. It said 49 per cent of Scots were saving each month in the autumn, up slightly from the same period last year but down down from 54 per cent just six months ago and 60 per cent in 2005. Those saving every month set aside an average of 182 in autumn this year, down from 209.33 in 2009.

NS&I savings spokesman Tim Mack said: "Many people may be feeling the squeeze. The festive period can be an expensive time, but there are still savings to be made. Being smarter in planning your spending by looking for promotional offers, buying cheaper brands and not leaving too much to the last moment are simple ways to make extra savings this year."

NS&I claimed Scottish savers were optimistic about next year, but the latest Nationwide Consumer Confidence index suggests the prevailing mood is one of uncertainty. The index slumped to a 20-month low in November as consumers became increasingly downbeat.

The building society said the number of people who think now is a good time to make a big purchase fell by 5 per cent last month, despite expectations of a surge in spending ahead of the VAT increase to 20 per cent in January. The shift in attitudes was attributed by Nationwide to the government's austerity regime, while consumers have also seen their spending power hit by inflation.

The proportion of people who believe the economic situation is bad rose by 5 per cent last month. There was a similarly sharp increase in pessimism towards household income, the economy and jobs.

However, Martin Gahbauer, chief economist at Nationwide, said: "This is not uncommon in the early stages of a recovery. After all, the labour market often lags the upturn in the wider economy."