Help to Buy ISA: the facts

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All you need to know about the government scheme to get more first-time buyers on the housing ladder - launching on 1 December 2015.

• Chancellor George Osborne unveiled plans to launch a Help to Buy ISA in the 2015 Budget.

• It launches on 1 December.

• The aim of the scheme is to help first-time buyers onto the property ladder.

How will it work?

First-time buyers will be able to save up to £200 a month in a dedicated ISA that the government will then top up by 25%. In the first month they will be able to deposit an additional £1,000.

So, for people who manage to save the maximum each month, the government will top up their account with £50 for every £200 saved.

The government bonus is capped at £3,000 so the maximum amount you can save into a Help to Buy ISA is £12,000.

How many Help to Buy ISAs can I have?

Accounts are limited to one per person rather than one per home so people buying together can both receive a bonus.

Will I be able to have a separate cash ISA?

The government says savers will not be able to subscribe to a Help to Buy ISA with one provider, and another cash ISA with a different provider. However, they can open a Help to Buy ISA and cash ISA as long as it is with the same “tax wrapper” provider and they don’t exceed the ISA annual limit (£15,240).

Will I still earn interest on my savings?

As with exiting ISA rules, providers of Help to Buy ISAs will offer their own interest rate for each account.

Providers will also be free to apply their normal ISA withdrawal rules to the account. The normal transfer rules for ISAs will also apply which will ensure that savers into Help to Buy ISAs can move between providers in order to get the best deal.

How do I receive my bonus?

You won’t actually see the government top up in your account. It will go straight to your mortgage lender at the point you buy your property.

Will I be able to withdraw my savings?

Savers will have access to their own money and will be able to withdraw funds from their account if they need them for another purpose but the bonus will only be made available for home purchase.

Where can I open a Help to Buy ISA?

Barclays, Lloyds Banking Group, Nationwide, NatWest, Santander, Aldermore and Virgin Money have all confirmed they will offer the product. Other providers may launch products further down the line.

Are there any stipulations I need to know about?

The tax-free government bonus is only available for people 16 and over, saving up to buy a first home worth up to £450,000 in London or £250,000 anywhere else in the UK. Accounts can be opened for a period of four years from the start date of the scheme.

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