Want to know more about Help to Save accounts? In this guide, we answer some of the most frequently asked questions.
- How many Help to Save accounts can I have?
- How can I pay into my Help to Save account?
- How will Help to Save affect my benefit payments?
- Can I close my Help to Save account?
- What happens if I stop being eligible for Tax Credits or Universal Credit?
- What if I leave the country?
- Can I put in more than £50 a month?
- If I underpay one month, can I overpay the next?
- Who manages the account and where will my money be held?
- Will the bonus be subject to tax?
- What if I have problems with my Help to Save account?
- Will Help to Save affect my credit rating?
- What if I have debts?
- Should I use my Help to Save account as my emergency buffer?
- Can HMRC recover money from my Help to Save account?
- What if I don’t have access to the internet?
How many Help to Save accounts can I have?
For an overview of Help to Save accounts please visit Help to Save Explained.
You can only have one Help-to-Save account ever. So, if you close one, you can’t get another one.
Accounts are for individuals, so where you and your partner qualify in a joint tax credits or Universal Credit award you can each open an account doubling the maximum potential bonus and total savings allowance for your household.
How can I pay into my Help to Save account?
You can pay into your Help to Save in two ways.
- Standing order from your bank account. This is the easiest way as it means you will not miss a payment.
- Individual payments by bank transfer, or using your debt card. This will be easier if you’re planning on making irregular or payments of different amounts every month.
How will Help to Save affect my benefit payments?
If you’re claiming Working Tax Credit, the money in your Help to Save account will not affect your benefit payments.
If you’re on Universal Credit or claiming Housing Benefit, the savings will not automatically affect your benefit payments. However, if the money in your Help to Save account, combined with other savings, goes over £6,000, your payment could be affected.
Can I close my Help to Save account?
Yes, but you shouldn’t. If you decide to stop paying into your Help to Save account it’s worth keeping it open. If you close the account you will not get any future bonus payments, but if you keep it open you might get a bonus on your eligible savings.
What happens if I stop being eligible for Tax Credits or Universal Credit?
Nothing. If you were eligible and opened a Help to Save account, it will stay open for the full four-year period. You only have to be eligible on the day you apply.
What if I leave the country?
If you’re claiming Working Tax Credit and leave the UK for less than eight weeks, or on Universal Credit and leave the UK for less than four weeks, this will not affect your Help-to-Save account.
You might be able to leave the country for six months without any effect if you, your partner or child is getting medical treatment, you’re a mariner or oil worker on the UK continental shelf, or because you’re out of the UK because your partner, child or close relative has died.
If you, or your partner are serving in the UK armed forces, or are a Crown Servant, then you can carry on using your Help to Save account while overseas.
Can I put in more than £50 a month?
No. The maximum you can pay in during any month is £50.
If I underpay one month, can I overpay the next?
No. If you pay in less than £50 one month, you cannot pay more than £50 in subsequent months to make it up to the full amount.
Who manages the account and where will my money be held?
Your Help to Save account will be held with National Savings & Investments (NS&I).
You will be able to manage your account online at tax.service.gov.uk/help-to-save.
Applications for Help to Save are assessed by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) through the government gateway and you will not need to submit any paperwork.
All deposits with NS&I are fully backed by Government.
Will the bonus be subject to tax?
No. The savings in the account and the bonus payment are not subject to tax.
What if I have problems with my Help to Save account?
If you have problems with your Help to Save account you can call 0300 322 7093.
Will Help to Save affect my credit rating?
No, but having savings helps you to avoid financial problems, which can have a positive impact on your credit rating.
If you don’t have a savings buffer, you might struggle with unexpected expenses, which could result in late or missed payments. This could negatively affect your credit rating.
What if I have debts?
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Having debts does not disqualify you from opening a Help to Save account.
However, if you have debts, particularly priority debts like Council Tax arrears, you should consider paying these off first before opening a Help to Save account.
Should I use my Help to Save account as my emergency buffer?
Your Help to Save account could be used as an emergency savings account. But, you need to remember withdrawals can take three days and any money you take out will affect your bonus payment.
It’s best to have a separate account for emergencies where you can access the money straight away.
Can HMRC recover money from my Help to Save account?
HMRC has legal powers to recover debts directly from any UK bank account. However, it is only used as a last resort in a small number of cases. Help to Save accounts are no different to any other capital asset.
What if I don’t have access to the internet?
Help to Save makes provisions for people who are digitally excluded so that they get the support they need. A telephone service, with a single contact number, will be accessible to customers who cannot use the digital service or need support following the opening of an account. The helpline number is 0300 322 7093.
This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.