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Isa ownership up 53% since 1999

More women and young people opening accounts
See our Isa Best Buys and use your allowance

The number of individual savings accounts (Isas) in operation rose to 14.2 million in 2008/09 – an increase of 53% on when they were first launched in 1999.

According to research from Halifax, the number of people under 25 saving in an Isa has grown by 88% over the past nine years. Some 1.14 million young people now subscribe to Isas, which currently allow people to save up to £7,200 or a year tax-free, or up to £10,200 a year for the over 50s.

In addition, Halifax’s data shows the popularity of Isas is growing most quickly among female savers. Although the number of men with Isa savings continues to exceed the number of women who subscribe to them, the ‘gender gap’ was just 1% in 2006/07. This compares with a 14% difference in 1999/00.

Cash Isas and stocks and shares Isas

The value of cash Isa savings has also grown dramatically since they were first introduced, Halifax says. The amount saved in cash Isas has increased from £12.3bn in 1999/00 to £169.5bn in December 2009.

Cash accounted for 58% of the value of all Isa savings in 2009, while 42% of savings were held in stocks and shares Isas.

This contrasts sharply with the situation in 1999/00, when stocks and shares accounted for 90% of all Isa funds.

Find the best Isa for you

With around six weeks left of the current tax year, now is the time to ensure you have taken advantage of your full Isa allowance.

Remember: if you were born on or before 5 April 1960, you are currently able to save up to £10,200 in Isas during 2009/10. Up to £5,100 of this can be placed in a cash Isa, but if you choose to you can save the full £10,200 in a stocks and shares Isa. These new limits will apply to Isa savers of all ages from 5 April.

To find a competitive cash Isa rate, check out the Which? Best Rate review. We feature instant access Isa accounts, fixed-rate cash Isas and also provide details of accounts that have remained consistently competitive over the past three years.

Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about stocks and shares Isas, read our free Stocks and shares Isas explained advice guide.

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