Help to Save is a government savings account aimed at an estimated 3.5m people on low incomes. The scheme pays a bonus of 50p for every pound saved over four years, representing better value compared to the 1 – 2 per cent returns on savings bonds offered by high street banks.
Eligible savers can open an account using their ‘government gateway’ ID and pay in up to £50 each month over the four-year term. Once the four years are up, or the account is closed (if earlier) there’s no opportunity to use the scheme again.
Savings and bonuses
You could receive two tax-free bonuses over four years of the account being open; at the end of years two and four. The first bonus is based on the amount saved in the first two years, the second bonus will be calculated from the additional savings added during years three and four. The most you can save is £50 per calendar month, meaning over the four-year term the maximum savings pot is £2,400 attracting a total bonus of £1,200.
You can withdraw money from your account at any time and this will be paid into your bank account. However, depending on when and how much you withdraw you could lose your final bonus.
Eligibility for an account
To be eligible for an account, you must either:
• Be entitled to Working Tax Credit and receiving Working Tax Credit or Child Tax Credit payments; or
• claiming Universal Credit and your household income in your last monthly assessment period was £542.88 or more
You can apply for an account if you live abroad providing you are either a:
• Crown servant or their spouse or civil partner; or
• a member of the British armed forces or their spouse or civil partner
You pay in £25 every calendar month for two years. You don’t withdraw any money, which means your balance halfway through the plan is £600. Your first bonus paid after two years is £300 (50% of £600).
Over years three and four you save an extra £200 to increase your balance to £800. You withdrew some money in year four but this doesn’t affect your final bonus which is £100 (50% of £200), paid at the end of the term.
Your savings plan closes with a final balance of £1,200 – you having paid in £800.
For information and advice on a range of savings and investments that suit your circumstances, please get in touch.