Millions missing out on Help to Save scheme

Although more than 132,000 people have signed up to the state-backed savings account, government admits around 3.5m could benefit from the Help to Save scheme

Figures released by the Treasury have revealed that more than £31.4m has been deposited by over 100,000 people into the government’s flagship Help to Save savings scheme, entitling them to bonuses totalling around £14m.

The account offers working people on low incomes a 50% bonus on what they save – rewarding them with 50p for every £1 they put away. Over four years, a maximum bonus of £1,200 is available on savings of up to £2,400.

But the figures also reveal that out of the 132,000 that have opened an account, some 32,000 have so far failed to make a single deposit into the account. And according to the government, less than 4% of the 3.5m people who are eligible are taking advantage of the scheme.

The Economic Secretary to the Treasury, John Glen, said: ‘Around 3.5m people could benefit from the scheme, so if you’re eligible but haven’t yet opened an account, you should take a look. Saving comes with a 50% government bonus and even a small amount could help you to be more prepared for the future.’

Help to Save is available to working people on Tax Credits, or Universal Credit claimants with a minimum earned income equivalent to 16 hours per week at the National Living Wage in their last assessment period.

Account holders can save between £1 and £50 every calendar month and accounts last for four years from the date the account is opened. After two years, savers get a 50% tax-free bonus on the highest balance they’ve achieved. If they continue saving, they could receive another 50% tax-free bonus after a further two years.

On maximum savings of £2,400 over four years, the overall bonus would be £1,200.

The latest figures show that the average monthly deposit is £47, while 89% of deposits are for the full £50. In July 2019, some 6,300 accounts were opened, up from June’s 5,150, but below January 2019’s peak of 9,650 accounts.

Help to Save statistics

By Philip Smith

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