Are grandparents getting the credit they deserve this summer?

Published  25 July 2023
   4 min read
  • Almost two-thirds (59%) of over 50s in the UK don’t know National Insurance credits can be claimed as a carer or grandparent
  • Grandmothers could be missing out on £6,382* worth of State Pension payments for every year of NI contributions they don’t claim
  • A third (33%) of women and a quarter (25%) of men over 50 aren’t aware of eligibility criteria for full state pension

Working parents struggling to find affordable childcare often turn to grandparents to help care for their offspring, especially over the long school summer holidays. However, Royal London is highlighting the financial benefits that thousands of grandparents are failing to claim, often because they’re simply unaware they can. In fact, only one in ten (9%) adults over 50 years of age have tried to claim NI credits, according to new research from the mutual, carried out with 4,000 adults in the UK.

Any grandparents under state pension age that look after their grandchildren on a regular basis can apply for National Insurance (NI) credits, helping them qualify for a full state pension. Gaining valuable pension credits will boost their future retirement income, with a year’s NI contributions worth approximately £6,382 for grandmothers over the course of their retirement.

Claiming credits involves working parents giving up the Child Benefit credits they receive and donating them to the grandparents, but grandparents and parents must apply for them to be transferred.

Almost two-thirds (59%) of over 50s in the UK don’t know NI credits can be claimed for looking after grandchildren. There’s also general uncertainty around the state pension; worryingly around a third (29%) of over 50s are unaware that you need 35 years of NI credits to claim the full state pension.

Gender Pensions Gap

Although an incomplete NI record affects both women and men, more women are likely to have stopped work because they're caring for children, elderly relatives, or for health reasons, and have gaps in employment.

At least 10 years’ worth of NI credits are needed to qualify for the state pension, with 35 years’ worth of credit needed to get it in full. However, many women approaching retirement have less than the necessary number of qualifying years, contributing to a gender pension gap. Royal London’s research reveals a third (33%) of adults aged between 50 – 69 have found gaps in their NI record.

Adult childcare credits can be backdated until 6 April 2011 and the Government encourages everyone who is eligible to apply. If you miss a year of NI contributions and don't make it up, you'll lose 1/35th of the full rate state pension. That's equivalent to £5.82 a week or £304 a year.

Clare Moffat, pensions expert at Royal London, commented:

“Many grandparents find looking after the grandchildren hugely rewarding. Not only does regular care help keep them mentally and physically active, it can also boost their retirement income, but only if they claim the credit that goes towards their state pension.

“The cost of living crisis and phenomenal rise in childcare costs has meant grandparents have increasingly been called upon, but there is a lack of awareness of the ability to benefit financially in terms of their own state pension – extremely useful for anyone with gaps in their record.

“For most people, the state pension provides the foundation for their retirement income and it can make a big difference if you have gaps. So, it’s really important to check your record and claim what you’re entitled to.”

Notes to editor

Royal London commissioned a survey by Opinium between 23 and 27 June 2023, with a sample of 4,000 nationally representative UK adults.

The full new state pension for 2023/24 is £10,636.60, so 1/35th is £303.90pa

Life expectancy at age 66 for women is 87  (21 x £303.90 = £6,381.90)

Childcare and National Insurance credits - Grandparents under state pension age that provide care for a child aged under 12 may be able to get Class 3 Specified Adult National Insurance credits. These are not credited automatically and need to be applied for (using form CF411A).

For further information please contact:

Nicki Parry, PR Manager

About Royal London

Royal London is the largest mutual life, pensions and investment company in the UK, and in the top 25 mutuals globally, with assets under management of £162 billion, 8.6 million policies in force and over 4,200 employees. Figures quoted are as at 31 December 2023. Learn more at