Following an earlier period of consultation, HMRC have published draft legislation along- side a further technical consultation document, setting out proposals for the main features, processes and requirements of the new Help-to-Save accounts scheme, which is set to commence in 2018.
Help-to-Save will be targeted at working families on low incomes to help them build up their savings. The scheme will be open to around 4 million individuals who either receive universal credit and have minimum weekly household earnings equivalent to 16 hours at the national living wage, or receive Working Tax Credit (WTC).
Help-to-Save will work by providing a 50% government bonus on up to £50 of monthly savings into a Help-to-Save account. The bonus will be paid after two years, with savers able to continue saving for a further two years, meaning people can save up to £2,400 and benefit from total government bonuses worth up to £1,200. Along similar lines to Lifetime ISAs, bonuses on Help-to-Save accounts will be exempt from income tax.
Accounts will be available through the government’s chosen account provider, National Savings and Investments (NS&I). Customers will register for an account through the gov.uk portal. HMRC will carry out the necessary eligibility checks (using Tax Credits and Universal Credits data) and will pass the customers through to NS&I to set up an account if they are eligible. Eligibility queries will be handled by HMRC.
Help-to-Save accounts will usually mature after four years. Once an account matures it will automatically rollover into a successor account which will not attract a further Help-to-Save bonus. However, an account may mature earlier if the account holder dies or becomes terminally ill, with the bonus paid at this point.
The consultation ran until 27 October 2017. Responses are now being reviewed and the draft regulations will be revised as appropriate before they are laid before Parliament.