If you're on a low income, you might qualify for a Government-backed scheme called Help to Save.
It’s a type of savings account that gives a bonus of 50p for every £1 you save over 4 years.
Help to Save accounts are held by National Savings & Investments (NS&I) and bonuses are paid into nominated bank accounts.
The scheme is separate from any HSBC savings accounts you might hold.
Who is eligible for Help to Save?
You need to be living in the UK to open a Help to Save account. One of the following also needs to apply:
- you’re receiving Working Tax Credit
- you’re entitled to Working Tax Credit and are receiving Child Tax Credit
- you’re claiming Universal Credit and your household earned £604.56, or more, from paid work in your last monthly assessment period
If you live outside the UK, you can also apply for an account if you’re either a:
- Crown servant, or their spouse, or civil partner
- member of the British armed forces, or their spouse, or civil partner
You and your partner can both apply for your own Help to Save accounts if you get payments as a couple. However, you’ll need to apply separately.
Even if you stop claiming benefits, you can still continue to use your Help to Save account.
How Help to Save works
Each calendar month, you can save between £1 and £50. But you don’t have to pay money in every month.
You can make as many payments into your Help to Save account as you like, as long as you don’t exceed the maximum of £50 each calendar month. For example, if you’ve saved £50 by 15 June, you can’t pay in again until 1 July.
These payments can be made by debit card, standing order or bank transfer.
You can only move money out of your Help to Save account to your nominated bank account.
How bonuses are worked out
At the end of the 2nd and 4th years, you’ll receive a bonus. These are based on how much you’ve saved.
After 2 years, the bonus is 50% of the highest balance in your account during the previous 2 years.
After 4 years, another bonus is paid. This time it's 50% of the difference between the highest balance during the first 2 years and the highest balance during the second 2 years.
For example, if you paid in £10 a month for the first 2 years and made no withdrawals, the amount in your Help to Save account would be £240 (£10 multiplied by 24 months). The bonus of 50% of the highest balance of £240 would be £120, paid into your nominated bank account.
If over the next 2 years you continued to pay in £10 a month, that would bring the total amount in your Help to Save account to £480 (£10 x 48 months). The difference between the highest balance during the first 2 years and the second 2 years would be £240 (£480 minus £240) so the bonus after 4 years would be £120 (50% of £240).
Closing a Help to Save account
Your Help to Save account will close 4 years after you open it. The money is then transferred to your nominated account.
You can also close your account at any time. If you close your account early, you won’t get your next bonus. Once an account has been closed, you can’t reopen it, or open a new Help to Save account.
How a Help to Save account could affect your benefits
Your eligibility for certain benefits might be affected if you save money through a Help to Save account.
There’s no impact on how much Universal Credit you get as long as you, or your partner, have £6,000, or less, in personal savings. This includes your Help to Save account. Any Help to Save bonuses won’t affect your Universal Credit payments either.
If your savings are more than £6,000, anything above that amount is counted as monthly income of £4.35 for each £250, or part of £250. For example, if you have £6,250 in savings, £250 of that will be treated as monthly income so £4.35 will be taken off your Universal Credit payment.
There’s no impact on how much Housing Benefit you get as long as you, or your partner, have £6,000, or less, in personal savings. This includes your Help to Save account. The same applies for savings above £6,000 as with Universal Credit.
Working Tax Credit
Savings and bonuses you get from Help to Save won’t affect your Working Tax Credit payments.