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Saving money and increasing income

Help to Save: How to boost your savings

The Help to Save scheme, a government backed savings account, can help those on low incomes boost their savings by 50p for every £1 saved.

If you’re entitled to Working Tax Credit or Universal Credit you could be eligible to open a Help to Save account. And, because it's a government scheme all your money is secure.

How does Help to Save work?

Once your Help to Save account is open it’s up to you how much and how often you save. To get the tax-free bonus you aren’t required to save a minimum amount or even save every month. However, the maximum you can save is £50 a month.

The account stays open for fours years after which it closes. You can withdraw the money from your savings at any time and it’ll be paid into your bank account.

You can also close the account early, however as you’re only allowed one Help to Save account you won’t be able to open another in the future. If you close the account early you won't be eligible for the next bonus that's due.

How is the Help to Save bonus paid?

You can earn two tax-free savings bonuses that’ll be paid into your bank account (not your Help to Save account). The bonus is based on how much you’ve saved. Even if you’ve withdrawn money from your savings, you’ll could still be entitled to a bonus. However, you'll be affecting your chances of earning the maximum bonus by doing so.

The first bonus is paid at the end of the second year and will be 50% of the highest balance saved. So if you saved the maximum £50 every month at the end of the two years you’d have saved £1200. Your bonus would be 50% of that - £600.

The second bonus is paid at the end of the fourth year and is 50% of savings you pay into the account above the highest balance you’ve saved. So if you continue to save £50 a month you’ll be adding another £1200 to your savings pot and will receive another £600 bonus.

But, if you withdraw all the money you save after two years and then carry on saving you won’t get a bonus in year four because your highest balance would never go over £1,200. 

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 and your partner have a household award of tax credits or Universal Credits then you’ll be allowed to open a Help to Save account each. 

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

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Can my Help to Save affect my benefits?

It's possible your savings through Help to Save could affect your eligibility for certain benefits and how much you receive.

Universal Credit

You or your partner can save up to £6000 without affect your Universal Credit payments. This includes any money in your Help to Save account. Any Help to Save bonus you receive won’t affect your Universal Credit payments.

Working Tax Credit

Any savings or bonuses through Help to Save won’t affect how much Working Tax Credit you receive.

Housing Benefit

You or your partner can save up to £6000 without affect your Housing Benefit payments. This includes any money in your Help to Save account. Any Help to Save bonuses you receive won’t affect your Housing Benefit payments.

How do I apply?

If you’re eligible you can open a Help to Save 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.

I'm on benefits and need help paying debt - 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 us or through our online debt advice tool.

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They were a pillar of support to me.” (Leslie, Essex)

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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