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An ISA or Individual Savings Account was brought in by the UK government in 1999 as a tax-efficient way for people to invest or save their money.

There are three types of ISA available:

• Cash ISA

• Stocks & Shares ISA

• Junior ISA

Cash ISAs

These are available to UK residents who are aged 16 and over. These types of ISAs are similar to having a normal bank or building society account, where people can save
their money without having to pay tax on any interest they accrue. As with a bank account you can also gain access to your funds at relatively short notice.

Stocks & Shares ISA

These are available to UK residents who are aged 18 and over. People who purchase stocks and shares ISA invest their money in the stock market, and any gains that are made are not liable to any capital gains tax. One disadvantage is that the capital is exposed to the rises and falls associated with stock market investing. Like any stock market investments, purchasing these type of ISAs should be considered as more of a long-term investments.

Junior ISA

These are a relatively new tax-free savings account brought into to replace Child Trust Funds (CTF) on 1st Jan 2011. These are designed to help families save for their children’s future. They are available to all UK resident children under the age of 18 who don’t have a CTF; were born on or after 3rd Jan 2011, or born before September 2002 i.e. prior to CTF being introduced. At the age of 16 the child can take over responsibility of the ISA, but is unable to access the money until they are 18.

How much can you put into an ISA?

Currently, the annual contribution limit (6 April to 5 April) for an ISA is £11,280. You can put in up to £5,640 into a cash ISA, and the remainder can be invested in stocks and shares ISA. As for a junior ISA you have an annual allowance of £3,600.