§ Mr. Stephen O'Brien
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) if he will make a statement about the future of saving products in the UK;
(2) what assessment he has made of the barriers to entry to the savings market for lower income households; and what steps the Government has taken to eradicate these barriers;
(3) what the Government's (a) short, (b) medium and (c) long-term aims are for saving in the United Kingdom, what targets he has set for his savings policy; and if he will make a statement;
(4) what steps he is taking to boost savings by individuals who do not hold a bank account; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Ruth Kelly
Savings provide individuals with security, independence and opportunity throughout life. A number of barriers may prevent individuals, particularly those from low and moderate-income households, from making optimal saving decisions. These include factors such as lack of trust in financial services providers, complexity of products resulting in a costly system of advice and sales regulation, lack of clear financial information and the capability to process the information. The Government's saving strategy takes these factors into account and is focused onimproving the environment for saving, with macroeconomic stability and an efficient and well regulated market in financial services; creating the right incentives for saving, assisting those on lower incomes and ensuring that taxes and benefits reward, rather than penalise, savers; empowering individuals with financial information, improved access to advice, and simpler and easier to understand savings products; and developing saving products suitable for each stage in a person's life cycle. As the scale of saving increases, proceeds from one product may be rolled into the next, helping people to progress up the savings ladder.
Progress has been made across all these fronts. For example:a radically new regulatory regime was created by the Financial Services and Markets Act 2001 which replaced ten different regulators with a single regulator, the FSA, covering the whole financial services market.
All the high street banks now offer basic bank accounts that are free to open and run. Universal Banking Services will improve the environment for saving, with macroeconomic stability and an efficient and well regulated market in financial services; create the right incentives for saving, assisting those on lower incomes and ensure that taxes and benefits reward, rather than penalise, savers; empower individuals with financial information, improved access to advice, and simpler and easier to understand savings products; and 132W develop saving products suitable for each stage in a person's life cycle. As the scale of saving increases, proceeds from one product may be rolled into the next, helping people to progress up the savings ladder.
Universal Banking Services, which will be operational from April 2003, will ensure that access to basic bank accounts will be available over Post Office counters.
Since their launch in 1999, Individual Savings Accounts have helped to make saving, and the benefits of saving, simple for ordinary investors to understand. Around 14 million people have an ISA. The Government is taking forward the recommendation of the Sandler review for the development of a suite of simple, low cost, risk-controlled 'stakeholder' investment products aimed at low and medium income investors and sold through a simplified sales regime.
Pilots for the Saving Gateway, an account designed to provide transparent incentives to save for low-income individuals, including those who may not own any other financial products, were launched in August 2002. Tailored financial information and education are provided alongside Saving Gateway accounts to help individuals make informed saving choices.
The Government is continuing to develop details of the Child Trust Fund, which will offer all families an account in which to save for their children, with every child receiving an endowment from the Government. The Child Trust will reinforce financial education delivered through the national curriculum and other channels.
The Government is consulting widely on the Pensions Green Paper proposals to enable those of working age to plan more effectively for a secure retirement. Related to this, the Government has set out proposals to simplify radically the taxation of pensions, which will enable people to make clearer and more confident decisions about retirement saving.
Statements on the progress of the Government's saving policies will be provided in the Budget.