What is the Help to Save scheme? Government-backed savings account helping people on Universal Credit

Small businesses have reported a 10% sales slump for July (Dominic Lipinski/PA))
Small businesses have reported a 10% sales slump for July (Dominic Lipinski/PA))

The Help To Save scheme gives you a 50 per cent bonus on top of anything you save, and it’s funded by the Government.

Putting aside the maximum amount each year could earn you a £1,200 bonus over four years, reports The Sun.

Speaking to The Sun, Tom Selby, head of retirement policy at AJ Bell, said that just 2.5 per cent of people who qualify for Help To Save are signed up, meaning 5.6 million people on benefits such as Universal Credit are eligible for the accounts.

But who is eligible, and what is the Help To Save scheme? Here’s everything you need to know.

What is the Help To Save scheme?

The Help To Save scheme is a type of savings account, that allows certain people entitled to Working Tax Credit, or receiving Universal Credit, to get a bonus of 50p for every £1 they save, over a period of four years.

The scheme is backed by the Government, so all savings in it are secure.

Moreover, you can save between £1 and £50 every calendar month and you don’t have to pay money in every month, either.

Instead, you can pay money into your Help To Save account via debit card, standing order, or bank transfer.

Each month, you can pay in as many times as you want, but the most you can pay in each calendar month is £50. For example, if you have saved £50 by January 8, you will not be able to pay in again until February 1.

Around 359,000 Help To Save accounts have been opened since the scheme’s launch in 2018, but more than 48,000 of those have never been paid into, reports The Sun.

Moreover, around 143,000 people have saved the maximum £50 a month into these accounts.

Tom said: “These people are on track to get a £1,200 savings top-up - the money could provide them with a rainy-day fund and become a stepping stone to saving and investing more in the future.

“But these figures show that just a fraction of low-income households are making the most of this generous scheme.”

Who is eligible?

To qualify for a Help To Save account, you will need to meet one of the following criteria:

  • You will need to receive Working Tax Credit

  • You are entitled to Working Tax Credit and receive Child Tax Credit

  • You claim Universal Credit and you (with your partner if it’s a joint claim) earned £658.64 or more from paid work in your last monthly assessment period

The accounts are also one per person, not one per household, so if you and your partner qualify, you can both open an account.

You also need to be in the UK to be eligible.

How does it compare to other savings accounts?

Help To Save is the most generous savings account out there, with an unbeatable 50 per cent bonus. It also has the added perk of being easy-access, meaning you can access your money at any time if you need to, and you won’t forfeit your bonus.

Speaking to The Sun, Tom said: “The flexibility of the scheme is one of its massive perks, as savers can withdraw their money whenever they need it and they will still get a bonus equivalent to half of their highest balance.

“It means you aren’t penalised if you need to take out some cash.”