Help to Save is a government scheme launched in September 2018. It promises to reward low income households for saving with a 50 per cent bonus, so for every pound we save, they’ll add 50 pence. Around 3.5 million people stand to benefit.
HOW IT WORKS
Help to Save is for those on Working or Child Tax Credits and Universal Credit (UC), if they bring in less than £542.88 a month, as well as people in the forces or their family. It stays open for up to four years and on each second anniversary, a bonus is paid against the highest level of savings that had been stashed there. Savers can put away up to £50 a month, so a maximum of £2,400, and earn bonuses of up to £1,200. The accounts remain open even if our circumstances change. Bonuses do not affect UC claims, although savings may count against the £6,000 savings threshold for new claims. The scheme will close to new applicants in 2023. (See the official Help to Save web page here.)
THE KEY FACTS
Not many people seem to know about Help to Save but some people may also want some help getting an account. It looks tricky but please stick with it – don’t miss out on up to £1,200 of free cash.
- Savers need to set up their Government Gateway ID and this can be a bit tricky. (Try it here). (This may change after March 2019, as the Gateway is being phased out.)
- It can be done online (here) but there is a phone line: 0300 322 7093
- You’ll need to manage a Government Gateway password, which might be sent by post, email or text (or a mix, in separate parts… seriously!)
- Anyone with expensive debts should ask for advice about whether to pay down debts to build up savings
- People willing to really think ahead should consider whether saving into a pension is more important. It might pay back more but savings play a different role, especially for people who don’t have anything to fall back on in emergency
Don’t give up. Having a savings pot is hugely important because when we don’t have one, a setback becomes a crisis. Grab that government cash. It’s there for a reason.