With the economy so uncertain (and stock markets reflecting this), it might feel safer to allocate at least some of this year’s ISA allowance to cash. The triple whammy of the pandemic, Russia’s war with Ukraine and the cost-of-living crisis has taught us the hard way that we can never really know what’s around the corner – and just how important it is to build up an easy-to-access savings buffer.
However, although savings rates ARE rising, the runaway rate of inflation means it’s nigh-on impossible to find an interest rate on a Cash ISA that get anywhere near it. It could be even more difficult if you also want to ensure your cash is being used for good rather than simply saving with any provider.
Fortunately there are some good alternatives to the big high street banks that can still offer a competitive, if still a little uninspiring, return. On the green and ethical scale, they range from stand-out social and environmental pioneers, to member-owned institutions such as building societies, to neutral players that are simply more attractive than the Big Five banks, which remain driven by shareholder value and propped up by fossil fuel investments.
While you’re unlikely to find a cash savings rate that won’t later be eroded by inflation, it will at least remain steady rather than rising and falling in value like stock market investments. Cash ISAs also offer deposit protection from the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.
Here, we round up the best five providers for a Good Cash ISA this coming tax year.
Ecology Building Society
- Ecology Cash ISA 2.90 per cent
Ecology Building Society uses its savers’ deposits to lend out as eco-friendly mortgages for new-builds and renovation projects with the ultimate aim of helping make Britain’s housing stock more energy efficient.
Ecology has a Good Egg mark from Good With Money, awarded only to companies that make a positive impact in the world.
- Online Cash ISA 2.77 per cent (variable)
Ethical Bank Triodos, which also has a Good Egg mark from Good With Money, uses the money its savers deposit with it to lend out to real economy businesses making a positive environmental, social or cultural impact on the world. Also offering stock market investments, crowd-funded Innovative Finance ISAs (IFISAs) and ethical current and savings accounts, Triodos is a true leader in the field of ethical personal finance.
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Nationwide Building Society
- One Year Fixed Rate Online Cash ISA 4.10 per cent
- 1 Year Triple Access Online ISA 3.20 per cent (variable)
Nationwide is the UK’s largest mutual, meaning it’s owned by and run for the benefit of its members. Because of the way it’s run, it says, it’s free to reinvest more profits into products and services that benefit members, rather than being driven by shareholders. It says doing the right thing by its members is at the heart of what it does.
With the Triple Access ISA, you can make three penalty-free withdrawals per tax year. After this, the interest rate reduces to 1.25 per cent.
- Ethical 33-Day Notice Cash ISA 1.75 per cent (Gross/AER)
Charity Bank was founded to support charities with loans that they couldn’t find elsewhere and to show people how their savings could be invested ethically and in ways that would make them happy. It invests its customers’ money into charities and social enterprises around the country.
It says on its website: “Charities have never been more needed, but also more challenged. That’s why our promise – of supporting charitable activities and helping people to save and do good – is more important than ever.”
- One Year Fixed Term Woodland Cash ISA, Shariah principles 4.20 per cent
An Islamic Bank, Gatehouse avoids investing in industries considered to be unethical under Shariah principles, which in practice are the same as those frowned upon under Christianity. The firm states it will “only invest funds in ethical goods and services and, for example, does not invest in gambling, alcohol, tobacco or arms”. It invests in real estate and construction as well as sukuk, which are sometimes known as Islamic Bonds.
Additionally, for every Woodland Saver account opened or renewed, Gatehouse will plant a tree in a UK woodland on the saver’s behalf.
Under Shariah principles, interest cannot be earned but profit is generated instead. The profit shared is the expected profit rate at the time the account is opened. To date, Gatehouse has always generated and paid its customers the expected profit rate. Find out more about how it works here.
Other options to consider for Cash ISAs with more ethically-minded providers include Chelsea Building Society, Coventry Building Society and Cooperative Bank.
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