Help to Save explained

Help to Save is a new savings scheme for people on low incomes who are claiming certain benefits. Help to Save gives you a bonus payment from the government of up to 50% (half) on savings paid into the account. This guide explains who can get a Help to Save account, how you can pay money into them and how the bonus payment works.

Who can get a Help to Save account?

Did you know

You only need to be eligible on the day you apply for a Help to Save account. If your circumstances change and you stop getting Tax Credits or Universal Credit, your Help to Save account will stay active and you can continue to save into it.

You can apply for a Help to Save account if you’re:

  • receiving Working Tax Credit
  • have a nil award for Working Tax Credit, but are receiving Child Tax Credits
  • claiming Universal Credit and earned a minimum of £542.88 in their last assessment period.

If you close your account, you will not be able to reopen it or open a new one.

The accounts last for four years, with a bonus payments of up to 50% on savings after two and four years.

Find out more about Working Tax Credit.
Discover everything you need to know about Universal Credit.

Is a Help to Save account right for me?

Remember

You can also only ever open one Help to Save account. Choose the right time to open it to get the maximum benefit. You have up to five years from September 2018 to apply for an account.

A Help to Save account might be right for you if:

  • You can afford regular payments without negatively affecting your living standards.

It might not be right for you if:

  • You will have difficulty meeting outstanding debt commitments, particularly priority debts such as Council Tax.

If you decide you don’t want to continue paying into your Help to Save account, or are unable to save for a period of time, it’s worth keeping the account open. This is because if the account is closed, you can never reopen it and you will not receive any bonus payments. If you keep it open, you will at least get bonus payments on your eligible savings.

How can I set up a Help to Save account?

From September 2018, you can apply for a Help to Save account online by visiting Gov.uk.

If you’re eligible and want to apply for an account, you can apply online at tax.service.gov.uk/help-to-saveopens in new window.

Your eligibility will be assessed by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) through the Government Gateway and you will not need to submit any paperwork.

Your Help to Save account will be held with National Savings & Investments (NS&I).

However, you will also need a bank or building society account to pay money into the Help to Save account and to receive your bonus payments.

How can I manage my Help to Save account?

Got more questions about Help to Save? Then check out some of these frequently asked questions.

Once opened, you can manage your Help to Save account online by visiting Gov.uk or through the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) app which is available to download for free for iOS or Android.

You will receive an account number and sort code so you can pay money into the account.

You will also get a welcome pack from HMRC when your account is opened.

How much can I pay into my Help to Save account?

Top tip

Use our Budget planner to see if you can find savings which can go into your Help to Save account.

You can pay in any amount from a minimum of £1 up to a maximum of £50 a month.

The easiest way to do this is to set-up a standing order from your bank account. This means you won’t miss a payment.

You can also make individual payments from your bank into your Help to Save account, or by using your debit card.

Payments will normally show up in the account within 24 hours.

There is no penalty if you’re not able to save every month, but this will affect your maximum bonus payment.

If you miss a payment, or pay in under the £50 maximum, you can’t overpay or top up at a later date. The maximum you can pay in during any one month is £50.

Can I withdraw money from my Help to Save account?

Yes, you can. Withdrawals can be made from your Help to Save account to your nominated bank account and will take about three days. However, this might affect your bonus payment.

Help to Save bonus payment

Help to Save accounts last for four years from the day you receive your account number, with bonus payments made after two years and at the end of four years.

The bonus payment can be up to 50% of what you pay in and will be paid into your nominated bank account, not your Help to Save account.

After two years

After two years, you will receive a bonus payment of 50% of the highest balance you achieve in this period.

For example, if the highest balance during the first two years is £500, you will receive a £250 bonus payment.

After four years

After four years, you will receive another bonus of 50% of the difference between the highest balance achieved during the first two years and the highest balance during the third and fourth years.

For example, if the highest balance after the first two years is £500 and the highest balance in the second two years is £900, the bonus will be calculated on the £400 difference. So, in this case, you will get a second bonus of £200.

Help to Save examples

Example 1: Paying in the maximum

Amy pays in the maximum of £50 a month for the first two years: £50 x 24 months = £1,200

She makes no withdrawals and gets a 50% on her highest balance: 50% of £1,200 = £600

Amy now has £1,200 in her Help to Save account and the £600 bonus is paid into her nominated bank account.

She continues to make maximum payments of £50 into the account for the further two years and makes no withdrawals: £50 x 24 months = £1,200 + £1,200 (carried over from first two years) = £2,400.

She earns her bonus on the difference between the highest balance during the first two years and the second two years: £2,400 - £1,200 = £1,200. Bonus payment is 50% of £1,200 = £600.

After four years, Amy has £2,400 in her Help to Save account and two bonus payments of £600 each (£1,200 in total) into her bank account.

Example 2: Paying in lower amounts

John pays in £20 a month for the first two years: £20 x 24 months = £480

He makes no withdrawals and gets a 50% bonus on his highest balance: 50% of £480 = £240

John now has £480 in his Help to Save account and £240 paid into his normal bank account.

Over the next two years, John pays in a higher amount of £30 a month and makes no withdrawals: £30 x 24 months = £720 + £480 (carried over from first two years) = £1,200

He earns a 50% bonus on the difference between the highest balance during the first two years and the second two years: £1,200 - £480 = £720. Bonus payment is 50% of £720 = £360.

After four years, John has £1,200 in his Help to Save account and two bonus payments totalling £600 (£240 first bonus + £360 second bonus) in his bank account.

Example 3: Making withdrawals

Helen makes a monthly payment of £30 into her Help to Save account: £30 x 24 months = £720

At the end of two years, she withdraws £200 to buy a new refrigerator. This does not affect her bonus payment as it is calculated on her highest balance which was still £720: 50% of £720 = £360

After the withdrawal, she has £520 in her Help to Save account and a bonus of £360 paid into her normal bank account.

She continues to make £30 payments for the next two years, but makes no withdrawals: £30 x 24 months = £720 + £520 (carried over from first two years) = £1,240

Her second bonus payment is calculated on the difference between the highest balance after two years and the highest balance during years three and four: £1,240 - £720 = £520. Bonus payment of 50% of £520 = £260.

After four years, Helen has £1,240 in her Help to Save account and two bonus payments totalling £620 (£360 after two years + £260 after four years) in her normal bank account.

If she had not made the withdrawal and continued to make the same monthly payments her end balance would have been £720 + £720 = £1,440. The second bonus payment would have been 50% of £720 (£1,440 - £720 = £720) which is £360. This would mean after four years she would have £1,440 in her Help to Save account and a total of £720 in bonus payments in her normal bank account.

What happens to my Help to Save account after four years?

After four years, your Help to Save account will be closed.

The money saved into the account, along with the final bonus payment, will be paid into your nominated bank account.

What if I have problems with my Help to Save account?

If you have already opened a Help to Save account and have any questions or problems, you can call 0300 322 7093.

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