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Equilibrium's Finance and Investment News Roundup

In the week of the EU referendum, our roundup looks at the latest opinion polls suggesting the vote will go down to the wire and warnings that Brexit could lead to a significant fall for the pound, as well as suggestions that bank Isa customers are receiving woeful interest rates and claims that the Help to Buy scheme is only helping a lucky few would-be homeowners.

 

EU referendum vote 'to go down to the wire'

This week's referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union (EU) looks set to go down to the wire, the latest opinion polls have suggested. An ORB survey for the Telegraph newspaper found that the 'Remain' campaign has moved up five percentage points since the same poll last week, taking it to 53%, while the 'Leave' campaign has fallen three percentage points to 46%.

Similarly, a poll published by social research body NatCen placed Remain on 53% and Leave on 47%; however, an online poll by YouGov for the Times placed Leave ahead of Remain, on 44% and 42% respectively.

Campaigning was suspended for three days following the murder of MP and Remain advocate Jo Cox last week in her constituency. With expectations growing that Britain will choose to stay in the bloc it entered in 1973, the pound experienced its biggest one-day rises in seven years. 

Brexit 'would lead to significant pound fall'

A billionaire who became famous after betting against the pound in 1992 has claimed that Britain leaving the EU would lead to a hugely disruptive sterling devaluation. George Soros explained that Brexit would trigger a fall for the pound that would be more marked than the infamous Black Wednesday fall of 1992, when the government was forced to withdraw the pound from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism.

Writing in the Guardian, Mr Soros said that should the Leave campaign triumph on Thursday, sterling would "decline precipitously". He claimed the fall would be at least 15% and could potentially be greater than 20%.

"It would also have an immediate and dramatic impact on financial markets, investment, prices and jobs," he added. 

Which?: Bank customers receiving low Isa interest rates

Which? has claimed that bank customers are receiving low interest rates on their Individual Savings Accounts (Isas), with banks cutting rates on the accounts more frequently than building societies over the last six years.

The consumer group described the returns as "woeful" after its analysis revealed rates as low as 0.05% following the expiration of initial bonus rates. It recommended that people should shop around for the best deals, especially during times when rates are so low.

Harry Rise, Editor of Which? Money, said: "Our research shows savers who don't want to have to keep moving their savings about should consider parking their cash with one of the more reliable building societies, who have been better at not cutting their rates for existing savers." 

Help to Buy 'only helping the lucky few'

The government's Help to Buy (HTB) Isa will only help a lucky few would-be homeowners, the charity Shelter has claimed. The warning was made after a BBC investigation found that many first-time buyers (FTBs) in large parts of England are being priced out of the scheme because the average price of a starter home in these regions exceeds £250,000 - the maximum purchase cap.

The HTB Isa was introduced in December last year, enabling FTBs to place their deposit in a tax-free savings account and a 25% bonus up to a maximum of £3,000 when they purchase a property.

Shelter explained the bonus is only available when the purchase price does not exceed the cap and claimed the government's focus should be on making sure that more new homes are being constructed.