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State pension boost used by just 123,000 people a year

Paloma Kubiak
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Paloma Kubiak

Over the last five years, only an average of 123,000 people per year have paid to fill in gaps in their record to boost their state pension.

This group have made voluntary Class 3 National Insurance Contributions (NICs) allowing them to fill historic gaps in their record to receive a higher state pension.

People may have gaps in their National Insurance record due to having been employed on low earnings or unemployed but not claiming benefits. The average contribution stands at £691, according to the data obtained by wealth manager Quilter.

Under normal rules, it is only possible to fill gaps in a NI record up to six years after the year in question, so currently it means people can go back to 2016/17.

But until 5 April 2023, there are special rules allowing you to go back an extra ten years to 2006/07.

And this may be a consideration for men born on or after 6 April 1951 and for women born on or after 6 April 1953 as under the new full state pension, you need to have 35 years of NICs. To get some state pension, you need to have at least 10 years of NICs while those with less than 10 years won’t get anything at all.

If you were born before these dates, you will get the basic State Pension instead.

According to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), 34% of the over 11 million people in receipt of the Basic State Pension did not receive the full amount (March 2022 latest data). This equates to 3.8 million people.

Meanwhile, around 805,000 people don’t receive the full New State Pension equating to 55% of the nearly 1.5 million people who receive this type of state pension. However, not all these people will receive less than the full state pensions because of gaps but also due to contracting out, Quilter said.

You can check online whether you have any gaps in your National Insurance record here: Check your National Insurance record – GOV.UK (

‘Valuable investment if you can find the money’

Jon Greer, head of retirement policy at Quilter, said: “Everyone’s finances are squeezed at the moment and simply having enough money for energy bills and sky-high mortgage costs may be proving difficult. However, for those people who think they might have a gap in their National Insurance record, making Class 3 National Insurance Contributions can be a very valuable investment if you can find the money.

“In fact, someone with ten missing years could pay a little over £8,000 to fix the gaps and boost their state pension income by £55,000 over a typical 20-year retirement. If you have one or two years missing, then this might only cost you in the region of £1,400 but within just a few years of retirement you’d make your money back and more.

“Once April arrives, you will have missed a golden opportunity to fill gaps that if left unfilled could have a material impact on your retirement provision so act now if you possibly can.”

Quilter explained that if someone isn’t sure whether they have any gaps in their record, the first thing to do is to visit the GOV.UK  ‘State Pension forecast” to see how much state pension you’ll get based on your current record and how much you will get if you work up to your state pension age.

“If you aren’t predicted to get the full amount (currently £185.15 a week), it can check for gaps in your record. Paying voluntary contributions won’t benefit everyone and it is key to contact the Future Pension Centre on 0800 7310175 who will be able to tell you if paying extra will increase your state pension entitlement. It could be one of the most fruitful calls you make,” Greer added.