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Managing a DMP

Can I still save while I’m on a DMP?

You never know when an unexpected household cost may arise, whether it’s your washing machine breaking down or your car needing repairs. If you don’t have any savings to fall back on, turning to credit may be your only option.

If you’re on a DMP, depending on who your provider is, taking out new credit may break the terms and conditions of your plan. You may also find you’re only able to access high cost credit which could lead to further financial problems in the future.

That’s why, if you’re able to, you should try and save a small amount every month. This can be included in your DMP budget. However, you should check with your DMP provider what the guidelines are for the maximum amount you can save each month.

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What is the Help to Save scheme?

Help to Save is a government backed savings account, designed to help those on low incomes to save money, by boosting their savings by 50p for every £1 saved.

Who can open a Help to Save account?

You can open a Help to Save account if you’re living in the UK and:


  • entitled to or receiving Working Tax Credit or Child Tax Credit payment, or
  • claiming Universal Credit and your household income in you last monthly assessment period was £542.88 or more. Your Universal Credit payments don’t count as part of your household income.

If you stop claiming benefits you’ll still be able to keep using your savings account. 

You can also apply for the account if you live overseas and you’re a:


  • Crown servant or their spouse or civil partner
  • Member of the British armed forces or their spouse or civil partner

If you stop claiming benefits you’ll still be able to keep using your savings account. If you have a household award of tax credits or Universal Credits then you and your partner will both be allowed to open your own Help to Save account.

How much do you have to pay into a Help to Save account?

Once you open a Help to Save account you decide how much you want to save (up to a maximum of £50) and how often. You don't need to make a minimum payment or pay into the account every month to get the bonus.

Can I withdraw money from a Help to Save account?

The account stays open for four years and during that time you can withdraw your savings straight into your bank account or close it at any time. However, as you’re only allowed one Help to Save account you won’t be able to open another in the future. You'll also miss out on the next available bonus if you close your account early.

How is the Help to Save bonus paid?

You can earn two tax-free bonuses based on your highest savings balance, So, at the end of the second year if you saved the maximum £50 every month you’d have saved £1200 and your bonus would be 50% of that - £600.

At the end of the fourth year you’re entitled to another bonus which is 50% of savings you pay into the account above the highest balance you’ve saved. So if you continue savings £50 a month you’ll have another £1200 at the end of the scheme and you'll receive another £600 bonus.

If you withdraw all the money after two years and carried on saving you wouldn’t get a bonus in year four because your highest balance would never go over £1200. So, although you can withdraw your savings at any time, you'll be affecting your chances of receiving the maximum bonus.

How does Help to Save affect my benefits?

If you’re receiving Universal Credit or Housing Benefit you or your partner can save up to £6000 which includes any money in your Help to Save account. Any bonus you receive won’t affect your Universal Credit or Housing Benefit payments.

If you’re receiving Working Tax credit any savings or bonuses through Help to Save won’t affect how much Working Tax Credit you receive.

You'll need to check if any savings or any bonuses from Help to Save can affect your eligibility for other benefits or how much you receive.

How do I apply for a Help to Save account?

If you’re eligible you can open an account online or through the HMRC app.

You’ll need:


  • Your National Insurance Number
  • Your bank account details – this is where any withdrawals or bonuses will be paid
  • A Government Gateway account – if you don’t have one you can set one up as you apply

If you can’t get online you can call 0300 322 7093 to open an account.

Do I have to use Help to Save to pay off my DMP?

No. Savings are included as part of your budget so that you have a safety net and don’t need to turn to credit to support your everyday living. If you’re able to save a regular amount every month, it’s up to you how you use this money. For example, you might save it to cover any unexpected costs or put it towards one-off expenses, such as birthdays or Christmas.

If you have a considerable amount in savings it could be possible to make a settlement offer to your creditors but, this would be your decision and, you should check with your DMP provider if this solution is a good alternative for you.

Looking for more ideas on saving money and boosting your income?

On our MoneyAware website, you'll find lots of money-saving and money-making ideas to help boost your budget, such as:




Other ways to save

If you’re not eligible for Help to Save, or you only have small amounts to save every so often there are other practical methods you can employ to help your savings pot grow.


  1. Jam-jar budgeting

  2. If you’re on a DMP then you’ll already have a detailed budget to start. When you receive your money, withdraw it and place it into a jar, or envelope – for example, one for travel, one for food and so on. When you need to spend, take the money out of the pot and put any change back.

    At the end of the month check how much money is left and set this to one side. If there’s nothing left in any pots, reassess your budget. This method works well if you’re using cash as you’re more conscious of what you’re spending. 

    However, if you’re worried about having pots of money around the house you could keep virtual pots on a spreadsheet or in a notebook and make a note of everything you’re spending.

  3. Small savings everyday

  4. Making a small saving every day can soon add up over the year, especially if you slightly increase what you’re putting in each week. Start by saving a £1 in week one, £2 in week two, £3 in week three and so on. Or, save 1p and increase the amount daily.The most you’ll have to put aside in one day is £3.65 but at the end of a year you could have saved £667.95.

  5. Round down savings method

  6. The round down method puts you in control of how much you save and when. Decide when you’re going to check your bank account (daily, weekly, fortnightly) and then round down what’s in there and transfer it into a different savings account. So, if you have £56.78 in your account you could transfer £1.78 (in other words rounding down to £55) or £6.78 (rounding down to £50).

    There are a several apps that can do these calculations for you - these work out what you can afford to put aside based on your spending habits. You can also cap the amount you save every month, cancel a transfer before it happens or withdraw any money you’ve already saved at any time.

I'm on a DMP and need help with my budget - can you help?

We give free and impartial debt advice to people with all sorts of debt problems. If you feel that you need some help with your financial situation get help by calling our Helpline or through our online debt advice tool.

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Foundation for Credit Counselling Wade House, Merrion Centre, Leeds, LS2 8NG trading as StepChange Debt Charity and StepChange Debt Charity Scotland. A registered charity no.1016630 and SC046263. It is a limited company registered in England and Wales (company no:2757055). Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

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