NS&I Green Savings Bonds: what are they and will they offer a good return?

The Chancellor’s Spring Budget unveiled a new savings scheme from the Government’s National Savings & Investments (NS&I) arm, focusing on ‘green bonds’.

Green bonds are a new form of investment issued by governments and companies which aim to use the proceeds to improve the environment. This can manifest in a broad range of ways – from investing in clean energy facilities to helping carbon-intensive companies reduce the levels of pollution they create. As with government bonds, if you invest in these you agree to effectively lend the government money for a set period of time, in exchange for an interest payment. At the time of writing, detail is still fairly scant on what kinds of green bonds will be available, how much they would pay in interest, or how long you might have to stow your money away for. But there were hints in the detail of the Treasury’s announcements that suggest these bonds may be more competitive than current dismal rates.

Dire savings market

The savings market has been in decline, in terms of rates on offer, for years. But this dire situation has been accelerated by the coronavirus crisis, seeing many savings accounts now paying as little as 0.1% interest. NS&I’s products are no different. In the second half of 2020 the Government-backed savings provider slashed its own rates to all-time lows. This was ostensibly done to discourage households to hoard their cash and encourage spending to help the economy and is not a new concept during crises.

Sovereign green bonds

The new green bonds are being introduced here, and by other governments, to support what is being called the ‘green recovery’ and includes the recent announcement of green sovereign bonds, also confirmed in the Budget. These bonds will be sold to investors as ethical, environmentally focused investments. But the Government, not content with offering such assets to professional investors, also wants consumers to have an option to put their savings towards meaningful green initiatives. The consumer-focused NS&I bonds will be 100% government guaranteed, but there is little detail as to whether they will offer a meaningfully better rate than normal non-green NS&I accounts. The Treasury has said, however, that these deposits will sit outside the normal remit of NS&I deposits, which could imply a different set of goals in terms of how much it tries to attract.


Speculation is rife over what rates will be offered. That being said, it is highly unlikely the bonds will pay significantly more than the current NS&I savings products, especially when the Government is providing 100% guarantees and the rest of the savings market is so poor.

There is no concrete timeline for these accounts to launch either, with NS&I sticking to a “coming soon” position for now. In the meantime, if you’re keen to invest your savings with the planet’s greater good in mind, there are a range of alternative ways to do so.

Please get in touch with your financial adviser to discuss the options for ethical investing.