Universal Credit can be received by anyone who is on a low income or out of work and who hits certain criteria. The actual amount paid out will depend on the person’s circumstances but there are standard allowances in place which will guarantee minimum payment amounts.
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For people on particularly low incomes, it may be possible to apply for a help to save account.
This account is offered by the government and people can apply for it if they’re claiming Universal Credit and earned a minimum of £542.88 in their last assessment period.
It may also be possible to get the account if the claimant is receiving working tax credit or has a nil award for working tax credit, but is receiving child tax credits.
If the claimant successfully opens this account, it can provide them with bonuses that will boost their income.
A help to save account will allow people to pay in between £1 and £50 a month.
Once the account is open, it will last four years and bonus payments will be made after two years and then again at the end of the four years.
The bonus payment can be up to 50 percent of what is paid in and it will be paid into a nominated bank account and not the help to save account itself.
The first bonus, paid after two years, can be as high as £250.
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The bonus awarded after four years of works out on a slightly more complex calculation.
After four years, the claimant will receive another bonus of 50 percent of the difference between the highest balance achieved during the first two years and the highest balance during the third and fourth years.
So, as an example, if the highest balance after the first two years is £500 and the highest balance in the second two years is £900, the bonus will be calculated on the £400 difference.
In this example, the claimant would receive a bonus of £200.
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After the four years are up, the help to save account will automatically close.
All the money saved into the account, along with the final bonus payments, will be transferred into a nominated bank account.
It should be noted that while it is possible to make withdrawals from a help to save account, the withdrawals may impact the bonus payments.
To get an application started a Universal Credit claimant will need a government gateway user ID and password ready.
Claiming and utilising a help to save account will not affect the following benefit payments:
- Universal Credit
- Working Tax Credit
- Housing Benefit
Over the course of four years, a person could get a maximum bonus of £1,200.
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