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Thousands of grandparents on childcare duty miss out on pension credits

Paloma Kubiak
Written By:
Paloma Kubiak

More grandparents are claiming pension credits for looking after grandchildren, but thousands are missing out, jeopardising their future income from the state.

Grandparents and other family members who look after children while parents work are urged to check whether they qualify for help with their state pension.

Currently, to qualify in full for the new state pension, retirees need to have 35 years’ worth of National Insurance Contributions (NICs).

Any adult under state pension age who is the main carer for a child under 12 can apply for special credits, called Specified Adult Childcare credits.

This ensures any gaps in their National Insurance record are filled so boosts their chances of getting the full state pension. Further, the credits can be backdated to 6 April 2011 when the scheme came into effect.

However, data obtained by mutual insurer Royal London revealed that over 15,000 applications were approved between October 2018 and September 2019.

While this is up on the 10,000 applications approved over the same period a year earlier, and an 11-fold increase from 2015/16 figures, Royal London said this is still likely to be a small fraction of those who are entitled to claim.

In 2018, minister for pensions and financial inclusion, Guy Opperman, confirmed around 100,000 grandparents of working age were eligible to claim the credit but 80,000 were missing out.

While the coronavirus pandemic may have prevented grandparents and other family members from physically caring for children in recent months, they will still be able to claim these credits if they carry out virtual childcare such as over the telephone or video.

Helen Morrissey, pension specialist at Royal London, said: “Grandparents have long carried out a vital service in taking care of grandchildren whose parents return to work and it is positive that this benefit exists to ensure those under state pension age do not miss out on National Insurance credits.

“However, while it is really positive to see such growth in the number of applications we are still only scratching the surface when it comes to the numbers of people who stand to benefit. The government’s recent clarification that those providing care via telephone or video is also welcome and will really help people plug gaps in their National Insurance record. We urge those caring for children under the age of 12 to check to see if they can claim.”

Click the government link to check eligibility and to apply for the Specified Adult Childcare credits.