On a low income? Get a free boost to your savings from the government with Help To Save

The government’s scheme to help low-paid workers save money was finally introduced this month: here's our guide to how it works, whether you could benefit, and how you can get the most out of it.


Who can get it

Help To Save is for people who get either Working Tax Credits or Universal Credit, and whose monthly household income (not counting Universal Credit) is above a certain level, roughly equivalent to working 16 hours per week at minimum wage. If your benefit entitlement ends after you open your Help To Save account you can keep using your account.

How it works

You can put up to £50 a month into your Help To Save account for up to four years. At the end of the first two years, you get a bonus - paid into your bank account - of 50% of the highest balance you’ve saved in that time. If you keep saving for a further two years you’ll get a final bonus: 50% of the savings you’ve paid into your account over the last two years. If you pay in the £50 maximum every month you could earn a total bonus of £1,200, which is yours to spend on whatever you like - you could use it to clear some of your debts.

During the pilot, 45,000 savers saved £3 million between them.

Can I save while I’m on a debt management plan?

Yes – and we recommend that you try to. We know it can be hard to put money aside, especially when you’re on a tight DMP budget. But the great thing about Help To Save is that you get a 50p bonus for every single pound you save - so even if you’re only able to put away a few quid here and there, you’ll still be rewarded for saving. It’s definitely worth doing if you’re eligible.

Don’t forget, though, that withdrawing money from a Help To Save account takes around three days, so it’s not a suitable way to save emergency funds. Also, although the savings and bonus payment are not taxed, they may affect your eligibility for certain benefits. Visit the government’s website for more information and to apply.

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