15 July 2020

Number of grandparents getting state pension help to look after grandchildren surges but still too many miss out

5 min read

Helen Morrissey, Personal Finance Specialist
Helen Morrissey

Corporate PR Specialist – Long Term Savings

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Grandparents looking after grandchildren whose parents have returned to work are being urged to check whether they qualify for help with their state pension by Royal London.

Figures obtained by the mutual insurer under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act show that over 15,000 applications were approved between October 2018 and September 2019. This compares to 10,000 applications approved over the same period in 2017/18 and an 11-fold increase from when the first FOI request was issued in 2015/16. However, this is still likely to only be a small fraction of the numbers of people who could benefit.

Under the Specified Adult Childcare Credit regime a grandparent under state pension age looking after a child under 12 years old whose parent returns to work can benefit from a National Insurance (NI) Credit. The parent (who has gone back to work) is likely to be paying NI in their own right and so no longer needs the NI credit that comes with receipt of child benefit.  They can sign this over to the family member who is looking after their child, at no cost to themselves.

Such credits are added to the National Insurance record of the grandparent and help them to build up a full state pension. Such credits can also be claimed by other family members such as aunts, uncles etc. Claims can be backdated to when the scheme was launched in 2011.

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 have “provided care in a different way, for example over the telephone or video,” according to government.

The FOI was tabled by Helen Morrissey, pension specialist at Royal London who 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.”

More information on how to apply can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-insurance-credits-for-adults-who-care-for-a-child-under-12-fact-sheet/specified-adult-childcare-credits-fact-sheet

Notes to editors

One year of National Insurance credits can be worth 1/35 of a full pension (because 35 years of contributions are needed for the full state pension).   The full state pension for 2020/21 is currently £9,110.40 per year, and 1/35 of this is around £260.  This means that someone who claims these credits for a year could get an extra £260 on their pension, or around £5,200 in total over the course of a typical twenty year retirement.

For further information please contact:

Helen Morrissey, Corporate PR Specialist – Long Term Savings

About Royal London:

Royal London is the largest mutual life insurance, pensions and investment company in the UK, with assets under management of £139 billion, 8.6 million policies in force and 4,348 employees. Figures quoted are as at 30 June 2020.