The Help to Save scheme is a UK government-backed savings scheme which was launched in September 2018. It is intended to help eligible people – including some Universal Credit claimants – save up to £50 per month in a secure savings account.
Those who pay into the account can earn a bonus of 50 pence per £1 saved, over four years.
The 50 percent bonus is payable in two instalments – at the end of the second and fourth years.
To date, savers have now received more than £22.8million in Help to Save bonuses, according to the latest Management Information figures from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
The data shows savers in the South West have so far received the highest average bonus payment of £397, HMRC said this week.
This is followed by savers in Greater London, where the average bonus is £385.
Across the UK, a total of 60,410 accounts have now earned a bonus, with the average bonus being £378.
These people are those who created an account and began saving two years ago.
The money is paid directly into the account holder’s chosen bank account.
Commenting following the release of the statistics, Quilter corporate affairs director, Jane Goodland, said on Friday: “The positive news today that more than 60,400 savers across the UK have earned their first Help to Save bonus payment just in time for Christmas is welcome in what at present is a fairly gloomy news cycle.
“On the face of it these figures point to a scheme which is delivering what it set out to.
“The Help to Save Scheme is well-meaning and could make a big difference to those on lower incomes who want to put money away for their financial future.
“However, its most recent set of statistics shows that while the scheme’s popularity is no doubt on the rise it is still not quite hitting the mark.
“Although up to August 2020, 222,000 accounts had been opened just 162,000 individuals had made a deposit.
“This shows that despite the 50 percent risk free bonus many people still find it difficult to actually put any money away.
“There are a lot of variables which play into how much and how frequently someone saves including any challenges in someone’s home life, budgeting concerns and their financial literacy and confidence with money.
“Evidence shows that many financial attitudes and behaviours are shaped around age seven.”
Ms Goodland went on to suggest a form of action which could be worthwhile.
She said: “The Help to Save initiative and others like it will be more powerful if they are combined with financial education in primary schools, so that future generations understand the benefit of saving for the long-term. A lofty goal, but one we should be aiming for.
“If we can empower the next generation to have confidence with money and a basic financial knowledge, then saving will become part of the nation’s DNA.
“If alongside the scheme there is a sustained effort to improve financial awareness and education, then schemes such as Help to Save could make a huge difference and in years to come many more people will be receiving a similar Christmas bonus.”