ITV PRESENTER Martin Lewis has urged people on Universal Credit to look into the Help To Save scheme for a 50 per cent bonus after two years.
The Money Saving Expert founder tweeted about the “unbeatable” scheme which could help people on benefits get some extra cash.
The Savings Assistance Program creates an account for low-paid workers on Universal Credit and helps them save money and get something more out of it.
To apply for this scheme, you must be a UK resident and meet one of the following criteria:
- Receive Universal Credit and have an employment income of £658.64 or more for the last monthly assessment period
- Benefit from the work tax credit
- Right to work tax credit and child tax credit
Every month you can save from £1 to £50, depending on how much you want to invest and it also depends on whether or not you feel like saving during a specific month.
After two years, you will get a bonus of 50% of the highest amount of savings you have managed to achieve.
So if in years one and two you managed to save £500, you will get a bonus of £250 at the end of your two years.
If you had to withdraw £100, for example, during these two years, you will still receive £250.
This is because the 50% is the highest amount you managed to save over those two years, not the amount you have left at the end.
After that, you decide whether you want to continue saving for another two years or not.
If you keep saving, after another two years you will get another bonus.
But this time, the calculation is different.
The amount you have saved in the first two years, £500, is taken into account.
If you have managed to save up to £800, for example, at the end of the next two years you will not get £400.
You will get 50% of the difference between the two amounts you managed to save.
So they will subtract £800 from £500, which is £300, and you will get a bonus of £150.
The account is easily accessible, so if you need to withdraw money, you can do so.
Bonuses will be paid directly into your main bank account, not the program account.
There are already people who have tried and tested the program and also thanked Martin on Twitter.
One person said: “@MartinSLewis thank you very much for your information regarding ‘account saving help’ from the government. I claimed UC for my wife and I and followed your advice to open an account in June 2020 , £50 each [per month] give us a free bonus of £1,200 next week plus our savings of £2,400, great advice.”
Note that you cannot open a joint account, but only one for yourself.
If you and your partner split the money you both receive, you will both have extra money to share together.
Martin Lewis does not recommend the scheme for those who have very high debts to pay. He suggests that you should erase them first and then check the Help To Save account.
He said: “The big concern with Help to Save was that it would encourage people to save when they would instead have to pay off their debts, including some hugely expensive ones like payday loans.
“Yet they managed to put in place a structure that allows people to have the best of both worlds.
“The fact that you receive the bonus based on the highest amount you’ve saved, rather than the amount you actually have in there, means you can hoard your savings until you have an emergency you need you would otherwise borrow and then use your savings instead of borrowing, but you will still be rewarded for saving in the first place.
“It’s a very smart ploy and one that will work for a lot of people. Of course, if you have extremely expensive debts, rather than saving, it’s better to try to clear them first.”
If you are having difficulty with the technology you can also call 0300 322 7093 and HMRC advisers will guide you and help you set up your account.
The program runs until September 2023.