People on Universal Credit could get £1,200 bonus – here's how

HOUSEHOLDS who claim Universal Credit can get a £1,200 bonus to boost their savings.

Millions of people on benefits are eligible for the top up to help them build up a cash pot.

The scheme is called Help to Save and it's a savings account for people on Universal Credit or Working Tax Credit.

Savers will get paid a bonus on top of the money they stash away in the account.

The maximum amount that can be given as a bonus is £1,200.

We explain how the Help to Save scheme works, who is eligible, and how to apply.

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How does the Help to Save scheme work?

Savers will get a 50p bonus for every £1 they put in the account over four years.

You can save between £1 and £50 every month, so you would get a £25 monthly bonus if you paid in the maximum amount each time.

Over a year that adds up to £300, and reaches £1,200 over the full four years that you can have an account.

You will get your bonuses at the end of the second and fourth years of having the account.

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You don't have to pay in each month if you don't want to or can't afford to.

Account holders can also withdraw month whenever they like but this will affect the amount you receive as a bonus.

If you open a savings account you can put money aside using a debit card, standing order or bank transfer.

The account will close four years after you open it and you will not be able to apply for another one.

If you decide to close your account before the four years is up, you will miss your next bonus and you won't be able to reopen it.

Who is eligible for a Help to Save account?

You can open a Help to Save account if any of the following criteria apply:

  • you are receiving Working Tax Credit
  • you are entitled to Working Tax Credit and receiving Child Tax Credit
  • your are claiming Universal Credit and you – with your partner if it’s a joint claim – earned £658.64 or more from paid work in your last monthly assessment period

If you get payments as a couple, you and your partner can apply for your own Help to Save accounts and will need to apply individually.

Most applicants will need to be living in the UK, with two exceptions:

  • Crown servant or their spouse or civil partner
  • member of the British armed forces or their spouse or civil partner

You can keep your Help to Save account even if you stop claiming benefits during the four years it is open.

If you or your partner have £6,000 or less in personal savings, including in your Help to Save account, this will not affect how much Universal Credit you get.

How can I apply for a Help to Save account?

If you're eligible for an account, you can apply online through the government website.

You need a Government Gateway user ID and password to open an account and you can create one as part of your application.

You’ll be asked to provide your UK bank details when you apply so make sure you have them to hand.

Universal Credit claimants have been warned they could have their payments stopped if they miss a crucial deadline.

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People on legacy benefits will be switched on to Universal Credit as the government resumes its managed migration programme.

More than a million households on benefits are missing out on £220 a month of Universal Credit.

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