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Surge in people topping up their state pension

Joanna Faith
Written By:
Joanna Faith

The number of people voluntarily topping up their state pension has soared in the last two years, HMRC figures show.

In 2018-19, £119.3m was paid in voluntary ‘Class 3’ National Insurance Contributions, compared with £12.8m in 2016-17 – a ninefold increase.

The surge in payments likely reflects the introduction of the new state pension in 2016, which gives people the opportunity to boost their pension through voluntary contributions.

Previously, people were eligible for the full state pension if they had 30 years of National Insurance Contributions. But this increased to 35 under the new state pension rules. To get any pension, savers need at least 10 years of contributions.

The rate for buying back one week of National Insurance Contributions contributions is £15 in 2019-20.

Steve Webb, director of policy at Royal London said: “It is great news that the message is getting out there that topping up your state pension can be a very effective way of using your money.

“For those who will not otherwise get a full state pension, the cost of voluntary NICs will often be recovered in full within three or four years of retirement, as the rate is heavily subsidised by the government.

“But it is important to be careful which years are bought back, as in some cases paying extra NICs will not always increase your pension.”

You can usually pay voluntary contributions for the past six years and the deadline is 5 April each year. So, you have until 5 April 2020 to make up for gaps for the tax year 2013 to 2014.

You can check your National Insurance record at www.gov.uk/check-national-insurance-record.