Help to Save Scheme
The Help to Save scheme, is a government backed savings account which can help people on low incomes boost their savings by 50p for every £1 saved.
If you are entitled to Working Tax Credit or Universal Credit you could be eligible to open a 'Help to Save' account. Your savings will be secure because it is a government scheme.
How does the scheme work?
Once you have opened 'Help to Save' account, it is up to you how much and how often you save. To get the tax-free bonus you do not have to save a minimum amount or even save every month, the maximum you can save is £50 a month.
Your account stays open for fours years after which it closes. You can withdraw the money from your savings at any time and it will be paid into your bank account.
You can close the account early, but if you do this you won’t be able to open another in the future and if you close the account early you won't be eligible for the next bonus that's due.
Who can open a Help to Save account?
You are eligible to open a 'Help to Save' account if you are living in the UK and:
- entitled to or receiving Working Tax Credit or Child Tax Credit payment, or
- claiming Universal Credit and your household income in you last monthly assessment period was £542.88 or more.(Your Universal Credit payments don’t count as part of your household income.)
If you and your partner have a household award of Tax Credits or Universal Credits then you will be allowed to open a 'Help to Save' account each.
If you stop claiming benefits you will still be able to keep using your savings account.
You can also apply for the account if you live overseas and you are a:
- Crown servant or their spouse or civil partner
- Member of the British armed forces or their spouse or civil partner
How to apply?
You need a Government Gateway user ID and password to apply. If you do not have a user ID, you can create one when you apply. You will be asked to provide your UK bank details and your National Insurance number when you apply online.
If you are unable to get online you can call 0300 322 7093 to open an account.
How is the Help to Save Bonus paid?
You can earn two tax-free savings bonuses that will be paid into your bank account and not your 'Help to Save' account. The bonus is based on how much you have saved, even if you have taken money from your savings, you could still be entitled to a bonus. However, you will be affecting your chances of earning the maximum bonus by doing so.
The first bonus is paid at the end of the second year and will be 50% of the highest balance saved. So if you saved the maximum £50 every month at the end of the two years you would have saved £1200. Your bonus would be 50% of that - £600.
The second bonus is paid at the end of the fourth year and is 50% of savings you pay into the account above the highest balance you have saved. If you continue to save £50 a month you will be adding another £1200 to your savings pot and will receive another £600 bonus.
If you withdraw all the money you save after two years and then carry on saving you will not get a bonus in year four because your highest balance would never go over £1,200.
Will savings affect benefits?
It is possible that your savings through 'Help to Save' could affect your eligibility for certain benefits and how much you receive.
You or your partner can save up to £6000 without affecting your Universal Credit payments. This includes any money in your 'Help to Save' account. Any 'Help to Save' bonus you receive won’t affect your Universal Credit payments.
Working Tax Credit
Any savings or bonuses through 'Help to Save' won’t affect how much Working Tax Credit you receive.
You or your partner can save up to £6000 without affect your Housing Benefit payments. This includes any money in your 'Help to Save account'. Any 'Help to Save' bonuses you receive will not affect your Housing Benefit payments.