The Government’s savings arm is facing a backlash after blocking millions of elderly savers from its new market-leading bond by only offering it online.
A market leading bond due to be launched this month will become the first by National Savings & Investments not let savers apply via post or over the telephone. Instead it will only accept applications through its website.
The decision, which will result in a cost saving for NS&I, comes despite the majority of over 65s who bought its pensioner bonds in 2015 having done so over the phone or by post.
The latest bond is a three year fix which will pay 2.2 per cent on deposits up to £3,000.
Last night experts called on NS&I to change its mind and reverse the decision, which it said was "out of touch" and risked excluding elderly people who do not have access to the internet.
Sir Steve Webb, a former pensions minister and head of policy at Royal London, said:"So much of modern life is geared around the assumption that everyone is online, but older people and those in rural areas are much less likely to be online. This is a very out of touch decision. NS&I should change its mind and offer the bond over the phone or through post offices."
Baroness Atlmann, another former pensions minister, added: "People who would - pensioners who have savings need some extra income which is good but then they may not - think should offer it at least over the phone. Money saving issue. Depending - costs a lot more to administer by phone and post. Should recognize it needs to help older savers as much as they can - need to look after them and treat them reasonably well, casualties of unsustainable.
A spokesman at NS&I said: “The majority of customers invest online so it was reacting to customer demand, and also from a taxpayer perspective it is a cheaper way of running the product. “Pensioner bonds were offered in January 2015: they were available online, by post and on the telephone. One-year paid 2.8pc and 3-year paid 4pc."