Story of NS&I

In 1861 the Palmerston government set up the Post Office Savings Bank. A simple savings scheme to encourage ordinary wage earners to provide for themselves during adversity and ill health.

The scheme quickly became very popular and the deposits found their way from the Post Office to the Exchequer, providing a fund from which the then Chancellor William Gladstone could borrow for public spending.

This set two principles which have remained in place ever since:

  • To provide a totally secure place for people to save, backed by the government
  • To provide the Exchequer with a source of funding for public borrowing

Significant expansion over the next century included the introduction of savings certificates during the First World War to help finance the war effort.

Premium Bonds were officially launched for sale on 1 November 1956 by Harold Macmillan, Chancellor of the Exchequer. The first draw took place on 1 June 1957.

1969 saw the first main structural change. The Post Office Savings Bank became a separate government department accountable to Treasury ministers and was renamed National Savings.

Over the years NS&I developed its range of savings and investments to suit the market, meet the needs of customers and the UK government’s need for funding.

On 1 July 1996 National Savings became an executive agency of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. In February 2002 the organisation became known as National Savings and Investments, later shortened to NS&I.

In 1999, NS&I first outsourced its operations to Siemens Business Services – the company was subsequently acquired by Atos in July 2011. The outsourcing contract is estimated on a ‘like-for-like’ basis, stripping out the impact of growth and inflation, to have reduced NS&I’s core operating costs by 55%, equating to some £530 million in cost savings.

In 2014, following a competitive re-tender, a new outsourcing contract with Atos began, sitting at the heart of NS&I’s business and supporting its range of savings products and its payment processing services for government clients.

The new contract will deliver a range of benefits to NS&I’s customers and by 2021 will save British taxpayers more than £400 million. This will be achieved by increasing customer use of direct sales channels; bringing improvements in technology and processes to deliver cost savings; and supporting the growth of NS&I’s business to business services.