Readers of this blog will be familiar with my rants on ISAs. So you can imagine my delight that the Chancellor has finally announced an the extension of the scheme:
"To further increase the choice that ISA savers have about how they invest, ISA eligibility will be extended to peer-to-peer loans, and all restrictions around the maturity dates of securities held within ISAs will be removed. The government will also explore extending the ISA regime to include debt securities offered by crowdfunding platforms."
In addition, from 1 July 2014 ISAs will be reformed into a simpler product, the ‘New ISA’ (NISA), with an overall limit of £15,000 per year. You will be able to hold cash tax-free within your Stocks and Shares NISA (if your provider allows it). And you'll be able to ask NISA providers to switch your money between cash-NISAs and Stocks and Shares NISAs.
As explained here, these changes offer a huge boost to the real economy, because savers will be able to lend their 'dead' savings directly to each other and to small firms to help fill the funding gap left by the banks. At the same time, savers will improve the value of their investments, not only by diversifying into a new asset class, but also one that provides a decent return.
Hats off to the government and the Treasury for putting in the work to turn this situation around.