Government contributions to Help-to-Save accounts

Part of Savings (Government Contributions) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 12:45 pm ar 27 Hydref 2016.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Jane Ellison Jane Ellison The Financial Secretary to the Treasury 12:45, 27 Hydref 2016

The Prime Minister has set out the Government’s mission to build a country that truly works for everyone, not just the privileged few. Clause 2 introduces the Help to Save product, and we can be extremely encouraged that it speaks directly to that mission. Evidence from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation cited in the House of Commons Library briefing paper shows that between a quarter and a third of households have said that they are unable to make regular savings for rainy days. According to the family resources survey, a household with less than £25,000 in income is twice as likely to have no savings as a family with more than £50,000. We heard from the debt charity StepChange in its written submissions—this point was amplified in its contribution to the evidence session—that access to a £1,000 savings pot can reduce the likelihood of the average family falling into debt by almost half.

Faced with that evidence—and the evidence we all know from our constituency surgeries of people living fragile financial lives, where one thing going wrong can tip them into debt or other problems—it is only right that we provide a strong incentive and reward for working households on lower incomes to build a savings buffer.

Help to Save will support up to 3.5 million people on lower incomes who are just about managing but may be struggling to build up their savings. It will help them develop their financial resilience and ability to cope with unexpected financial pressures. Clause 2 sets out the main characteristic of Help to Save: the Government bonus or contribution, which will be paid by the paying authority. The bonus will be paid at 50% of the highest balance achieved in the account. Over the four-year maturity period of the account, an eligible individual can save up to £2,400 and earn a Government bonus of up to £1,200. We intend that HMRC will pay any bonus amounts due and that that will be passed to eligible individuals by the account provider. Schedule 2, which we will consider shortly, makes further provision in relation to Help to Save accounts and the Government bonus.

Help to Save will meet a real need and will support many of those who are just getting by, helping them to build their financial resilience and supporting their ability to cope with financial shocks.