National Savings & Investments customers face 14-day delay to withdraw cash

National Savings & Investments

Hundreds of thousands of small investors face delays of up to two weeks getting their capital out of the state-backed savings organisation as it grapples with staff shortages owing to the coronavirus.

National Savings & Investments has told customers that lower staffing levels because of the Covid-19 outbreak mean that if they apply by post to withdraw their money, they may have to wait up to a fortnight. It is urging savers who can manage their investments online to do so.

While the delays apply to all NS&I’s savings products, the problem is thought to have been most acute with its guaranteed bonds, which have rolling maturity dates and mean that savers regularly apply when they are due to be repaid their initial capital outlay.

NS&I is backed by the Treasury and its mandate is to offer savers competitive rates to help to raise funds for government coffers. Its best-known products include Premium Bonds, which offer the chance to win a monthly prize of up to £1 million for an investment of as little as £25. The organisation regularly finds itself criticised by mainstream lenders, which complain that its attractive savings rates make it harder for them to compete.

A spokesman said: “During the coronavirus pandemic, we are asking our customers who are registered to manage their savings online to do so . . . We would urge customers to give their withdrawal instructions online unless they have no other choice, as this is the quickest way for them to receive their money.”

NS&I has 25 million customers, just over 775,000 of whom have guaranteed income or guaranteed growth bonds, which specify a return on an investment and a return the capital at the end of the term. Customers who ask for their savings online or over the phone will have to wait only a matter of days for the funds to be deposited in their bank.