The Government has revealed that less than 4 per cent of low-paid people have taken up a high-interest savings scheme that is designed to encourage them to save.
Help to Save began in 2018. It offers people on certain benefits a savings scheme that gives a bonus of 50% of what they have saved.
It is a great return, but the latest figures show that out of 3.5 million families who would be eligible, only 132,000 have opened an account – and of them, only 100,000 actually have any money in it.
Customers can save anything from £1 to £50 each month into the account and they are free to take money out at any time.
After two years they get a tax-free bonus equal to half the maximum amount in the account during that two years. So if they put in £25 for the first six months they will have £150.
They can then take that out – leaving just £1 behind – and even if they save nothing more, after two years they will get a bonus of £75, which is half that £150 maximum deposit.
At the end of the second year they will another bonus of half the maximum amount saved in that second two-year period.
Someone who puts the maximum £50 a month for two years and takes nothing out will have £1,200 in the account and will get a bonus of £600.
If she carries on for another two years she will have £2,400 in the account and get another £600 bonus so they earn total bonuses of £1,200. The bonuses are paid into the customer’s
current account, not into the Help to Save account.
People who are receiving working or child tax credit are eligible, as are those who get universal credit if they earn at least £569.22 a month – the equivalent of 16 hours a week on the National Living Wage of £8.21 an hour.
Once the account has been opened the individual will be able to keep it and earn the bonuses for four years even if they lose entitlement to those benefits if, for example, they get a well-paid job.