The Help to Save scheme for people on low incomes was officially launched in September 2018 and since then over 80,000 people have signed up. The scheme allows those in work entitled to Working Tax Credit and in receipt of Working Tax Credits or Child Tax Credits to save up to £50 a month for two years and receive a 50% government bonus.
The scheme is also open to UK residents who are claiming Universal Credit and have a household or individual income of at least £542.88 for their last monthly assessment period. Payments from Universal Credit are not considered to be part of household income.
Payments under the scheme can be made by standing order on a weekly, fortnightly, or monthly basis and one-off payments by debit card are also possible. Account holders will then be able to continue saving under the scheme for a further 2 years and receive another bonus. This could see those on low incomes receive a bonus of up to £1,200 on maximum savings of £2,400 for 4 years from the date the account is opened. After the 4 years the Help to Save account will be closed and savers will not be able to reopen it or open another Help to Save account. The account balances are expected to be rolled over into successor accounts.
There are no limits on how the savings can be spent but it is advised that the money will be saved for urgent costs. Money paid into the account can be withdrawn at any time, but this could affect the size of the bonus payment. HMRC has also launched a new tool in the HMRC app that lets savers set their own savings goals and personal reminders, to keep on track and maximise bonuses using the scheme.