PEL: bad news for some savers

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Are you the proud owner of a PEL? The Housing Savings Plan, as the Ministry of the Economy, Finance, Industrial and Digital Sovereignty reminds us on its website, is a rather special bank account. It allows savers to invest money for 15 years and then to benefit from a loan at preferential rates. This is then used to finance the acquisition of real estate (it’s in the name!), construction or work.

This is far, however, from being the only specificity of this product which, today, annoys banking establishments so much. And for good reason ! The PEL has a guaranteed rate of return… across the entire plan. Very concretely, this means that some savers have benefited, for years, from a very correct and unchanging return. Since August 1, 2016, the banks have reacted and brought it down to 1%.

Unfortunately, it seems, that time is now running out. Explanations.

The Housing Savings Plans which pre-date 2011 – and therefore show returns above 2%, sometimes even exceeding 4% – are now in the sights of the Court of Auditors, indicates Le Figaro on its site. The reason is quite simple to understand: they cost too much. Both to the state and to the banks. It is therefore becoming urgent to get rid of it, especially since the PEL is theoretically not supposed to be a long-term investment.

“The PEL is diverted from the historic objective of home ownership to become a long-term savings product”, believes the Court of Auditors, which continues: it is similar today, for oldest products, “to a real income, in particular for the benefit of older holders with high outstandings”.

This situation, continues Le Figaro, has long been denounced by the banks. No wonder: it is up to them to pay the expensive interest on such products. However, it is not necessarily a question – or possible – of lowering the rate of old PELs. It is, after all, a contract between the bank and the individual concerned.

Does this mean that PELs are saved and that savers who hold some of these old products are saved? Not exactly. Other solutions exist… Like a “removal device” for the advantage of old PELs, mentioned by the Court of Auditors. For the general delegate of the consumer association CLCV, another solution exists: negotiate, between banks and customers, the closure of PELs in return for compensation. Without forgetting the possible modification of contracts by law, in the name of a collective interest…

If it is up to the banks to pay the interest of the PEL, a question persists: what is the state doing in this? Why is he getting involved in a project that, at first glance, does not seem to particularly concern him?

The reason is very simple: the tax shortfall (due to the tax exemption mechanisms that go hand in hand with the PEL) is estimated at 411 million for the year 2022 alone, reports the Court of Auditors. Moreover, say the banks, it is a burden that weighs on the entire economy… and is therefore undoubtedly a state responsibility.