Universal Credit claimants may be entitled to a £1,200 bonus – eligibility & how to claim

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Universal Credit is overseen and administered by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), responsible for ensuring all those entitled receive the correct sum. Universal Credit is designed to help individuals who are either on a low income or out of work entirely with regular payments. These payments help with day-to-day costs of living, and can prove a lifeline, particularly amid the ongoing pandemic.

But some claimants may be able to access additional funds through a government helping hand scheme.

The Help to Save Account is intended to help certain people who are claiming Universal Credit or Working Tax Credit.

The dedicated savings account allows individuals to get started on their savings journey, but also receive a bonus from the government simultaneously.

Claimants can access a 50p bonus for every £1 they save over a period of four years.

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This can really add up to help people get back on their feet and gain a sense of financial stability.

Under the scheme, savers will be able to put away between £1 and £50 each calendar month, but there is no requirement to pay each month.

Money can be paid into a Help to Save account by debit card, standing order or bank transfer to make the process as easy as possible.

The Help to Save account will then close after a four year period from when it was first opened, with claimants able to keep any money they saved.

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But it is important to note the bonuses, which are the main draw for the scheme, work in a particular way.

Britons can expect to gain two tax free bonuses over the four year period, even if money is withdrawn.

After the first two years, people will receive a bonus if they have been using their account to save – set at 50 percent of the highest balance but away.

The four year bonus is set at 50 percent of the difference between the two amounts.

As the most a person can pay into their account each calendar month is £50, a maximum savings bonus is £1,200.

Bonuses are paid into a person’s bank account, rather than their Help to Save account.

However, it is worth noting who is eligible to start the account and thus receive the bonus, as for Universal Credit claimants, there are particular rules to bear in mind. 

Universal Credit claimants can open a Help to Save account if they – and their partner if it is a joint claim – earned £604.56 or more from paid work in the last monthly assessment period.

For people who receive payments as a couple, Help to Save accounts can be applied for individually, but must be done separately.

People will also need to be living in the UK in order to start a Help to Save account, apart from those in exceptional circumstances. 

Help to Save bonuses will also not affect Universal Credit payments a person receives, and so individuals can save without reticence.

To apply for a Help to Save account, Britons are encouraged to visit the government’s website.

Here, they can access the government’s portal with their Gateway user ID and password, or set this up when applying.

Individuals will need their UK bank details to hand when applying for the Help to Save account. 

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