Help to Save accounts – everything you need to know
Help to Save accounts are designed to help people on certain benefits build up their savings.
What's in this guide?How do Help to Save accounts work?Can I open a Help to Save account?Making payments into your Help to Save accountHow do Help to Save bonuses work?What happens after four years?Will Help to Save affect my benefits?How to apply for a Help to Save account
How do Help to Save accounts work?
If you’re entitled to working tax credit or getting universal credit, you may be able to open a Help to Save account. With a Help to Save account, you get a bonus of 50p for every £1 you save over four years. You’re allowed to save between £1 and £50 each calendar month but you don’t have to pay money in every month. If you saved the maximum amount allowed each month, you’d add £1,200 to your savings.
If you and your partner claim benefits as a couple, you can both apply for your own Help to Save accounts.
The Help to Save scheme is backed by the government, so all money saved is protected.
Can I open a Help to Save account?
You can open a Help to Save account if you’re getting:
- working tax credit
- child tax credit (and you qualify for working tax credit)
- universal credit (as long as your take-home pay was at least £722.45 in your last monthly assessment - this figure is the same whether it’s a single or joint claim)
Generally, you also need to live in the UK to open a Help to Save account. The only exceptions are if you’re a:
- member of the British armed forces or their spouse or civil partner
- crown servant or their spouse or civil partner
Making payments into your Help to Save account
You can pay money into your account by debit card, bank transfer or standing order.
You can make as many payments as you like, as long as the total amount paid in during one calendar month is no more than £50.
You can carry on saving into a Help to Save account even if you come off benefits.
How do Help to Save bonuses work?
During the four years, you can earn two tax-free bonuses.
After the first two years, you’ll get your first bonus. This will be 50% of the highest balance you’ve saved.
After four years, you’ll get another bonus if you continue to save. This bonus will be 50% of the difference between:
- the highest balance saved in the first two years
- the highest balance saved in the last two years
If your highest balance in the last two years doesn’t increase because you don’t add to your savings or as a result of withdrawals you make, you won’t get a second bonus.
You pay in £50 every month for two years and you don’t withdraw any money. Your highest balance will be £1,200. This means your first bonus will be 50% of £1,200, which is £600.
In years three and four, your highest balance is £1,300. This is £100 above your highest balance in years one and two, so you’ll get 50% of £100 for your second bonus. This is £50. In total, you’ll have earned £650. Even if you withdrew money after your balance hit £1,300, your bonus wouldn’t be affected.
What happens after four years?
After four years, your Help to Save account will close for good and you won’t be able to open another one.
If you choose to close your account early, you’ll miss your next bonus and won’t be able to open another one.
Will Help to Save affect my benefits?
Saving money in a Help to Save account could affect your benefits.
Saving money in a Help to Save account will only affect your universal credit payments if it takes your savings, or your partner’s, over £6,000.
Your Help to Save bonuses will not affect your universal credit payments.
Working tax credit
Saving money in a Help to Save account will not affect the amount of working tax credit you get.
Saving money in a Help to Save account will only affect how much housing benefit you get if it takes your savings, or your partner’s, over £6,000.
Your Help to Save bonuses will not affect your housing benefit payments.
How to apply for a Help to Save account
You need a Government Gateway user ID and password to set up a Help to Save account. If you don’t have sign in details, you’ll be able to create them before starting your application.
For your application, you’ll need your national insurance number or postcode and two to the following:
- a passport
- a UK photocard driving licence
- a payslip from the last three months or a P60 for the last tax year
- details of a tax credit claim
- details from a self assessment tax return made in the last two years
- the information held on your credit record
You’ll also need your UK bank details.