Martin Lewis discusses cash 'bribes' for switching banks
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Whether you are on a high income or claim benefits, a range of Government schemes will give you free cash provided you put some money away yourself. So check out these three schemes to see if any applies to you.
1. Lifetime Isa. The tax-free Lifetime Isa, or Lisa, offers cash incentives help to savers aged from 18 to 39 build a deposit towards their first property, or save for retirement.
Once you have set one up, you can continue saving to age 50 if you wish. So if you will soon turn 40 make sure you set one up before then, as you can then carry on contributing for a whole decade.
For every £4 saved in a Lifetime Isa, the Government adds another £1, a bonus of 25 percent.
Savers can pay in up maximum £4,000 a year, which would give them a £1,000 bonus in total.
Anybody who is eligible but does not get round to setting one up is effectively turning down free money from the Government.
Lifetime Isa benefits can really add up over the years. If you contributed the maximum amount every year, you could get three £33,000 worth of free cash.
You can either use the money as a deposit on your first property or take it towards retirement from age 60. There is a 25 percent penalty if you make withdrawals for any other reason, so check the rules.
2. Help to Save. The Help to Save scheme is designed to help people on low incomes build up their savings by giving them up to £1,200 in free cash as an incentive, says Andrew Hagger, savings expert at MoneyComms.co.uk.
It’s open to people who qualify for two key state benefits: Working Tax Credit or Universal Credit.
You can save anything between £1 and £50 each month, depending on how much you can afford.
After two years the Government will give you a bonus of 50 percent of the highest balance you’ve saved.
Hagger says: “If you continue to save into the scheme you will get another bonus after four years, at which point the account will be closed.”
Any bonus you generate will be paid straight into your bank account, not your Help to Save account.
The rules on bonuses are complicated, so visit the Help to Save section of Government portal Gov.uk to see how they apply to you.
Help to Save is flexible. You do not need to pay in every month and your money isn’t locked away, either. “You can access it at in an emergency, but try to let it grow,” Hagger says.
3. Pensions tax relief. Savers can pay up to £40,000 into a pension this financial year and claim tax relief on their contributions.
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Everybody gets automatic 20 percent relief, which lifts each £80 of qualifying contribution to £100.
Even non-taxpayers get this on contributions up to £3,600, so you can save tax-efficiently on behalf of a non-working spouse or child.
Higher and additional rate taxpayers can claim an extra 20 or 25 percent relief on their self-assessment tax returns. So they could pay jus £60 or £55 for each £100 that goes into their pension.
Tom Selby senior analyst at investment platform AJ Bell, says if you have cash to spare, act now. “Under pensions ‘carry forward’ rules, you can use unused allowances from the previous three prior tax years as well.”
Making personal pension contributions could help you beat the income tax freeze, if, say, a pay rise pushes you into the 40 percent tax bracket.
The clock is ticking down so do your research now if interested.
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