People claiming certain DWP benefits or HMRC Tax Credits could qualify for a bonus

By Linda Howard

Nearly six million people across the UK are currently claiming Universal Credit with a further estimated five million households receiving additional financial support through Working Tax Credits.

Now that the furlough scheme has ended, many people are facing job uncertainty through reduced working hours of the increased reality of redundancy and may find themselves having to claim financial support through the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) or HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to help them with the daily costs of living.

However, many people claiming benefits are not aware of a scheme specifically designed to help them by boosting their savings by 50 per cent, which could come in handy when the economic tide turns or their circumstances change - but it's not available to everyone.

And this particular savings scheme has been pushed so many times by money-saving expert, Martin Lewis and the MoneySavingExpert.com team, that new research into the scheme, published by the DWP and HMRC, has attributed a large part of its success to them.

The research included an online survey completed by 2,743 Help to Save customers between December 2020 and January 2021, as well as 33 follow-on qualitative depth interviews throughout March 2021.

It said: "The research found that Help to Save customers are predominantly working women with children at home - in line with the general profile of the Tax Credit population. A third are single parents. MoneySavingExpert was found to be a key source of awareness of the scheme."

The report added : "Customer views on Help to Save are overwhelmingly positive, with a significant majority recommending the scheme to others."

You can read the full report on Help to Save on the GOV.UK website here.

What is Help to Save?

The Help to Save account is a scheme which thousands of people on a low income, or claiming certain benefits, could be eligible to join.

It is a state-operated scheme that allows people entitled to Working Tax Credits or receiving Universal Credit to get a bonus of 50p for every £1 they save over a period of up to four years.

It is also possible to take the money out from the account, but there’s a catch - the bonus payout is based on the highest amount of money you put in.

Even if you’re not able to set aside money for savings at the moment, open an account anyway, while you are eligible to do so, because you don't have to put any money in.

How the Help to Save scheme works

The scheme allows certain people entitled to Working Tax Credit or receiving Universal Credit to get a bonus of 50p for every £1 they save over four years.

Help to Save is backed by the UK Government so all savings in the scheme are secure.

How payments work

You can save between £1 and £50 each calendar month - you don’t have to pay in every month.

Payments can be made by debit card, standing order or bank transfer.

You can pay in as many times as you like, but the most you can pay in each calendar month is £50.

You can only withdraw money from your Help to Save account to your bank account.

How bonuses work

You get bonuses at the end of the second and fourth years - these are based on how much you have saved.

What happens after four years?

Your Help to Save account will close four years after you open it. You will not be able to reopen it or open another Help to Save account.

You can close your account at any time. If you close your account early you will miss your next bonus and you will not be able to open another one.

Eligibility

You can open a Help to Save account if you are:

  • Receiving Working Tax Credit

  • Entitled to Working Tax Credit and receiving Child Tax Credit

  • Claiming Universal Credit and your household earned £604.56 or more from paid work in your last monthly assessment period

  • Getting payments as a couple. You and your partner can apply for your own Help to Save accounts - you need to apply separately

You also need to be living in the UK.

Will it affect my benefit payments?

You can continue to receive Tax Credits or Universal Credit while saving with Help to Save.

What happens if I stop claiming benefits?

You can keep using your Help to Save account.

For more information and to set up your Help to Save account, visit the GOV.UK website here.

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