A Freedom of Information (FOI) request has revealed that thousands of grandparents may be missing out on a boost to their state pension.
The ‘specified adult childcare credit’ gives a grandparent and some other guardians National Insurance credits if they care for a child under the age of 12 when their parents are at work.
Added to a grandparent or guardian’s National Insurance record, they can help boost state pension contributions by up to £5,000.
The credits can only be obtained for those under state pension age, but there is no minimum hours requirement and claims can be backdated to when the scheme was first introduced in 2011.
According to the recent FOI, only 10,000 people in the UK are currently benefiting from the credit, but experts suspect that many more could make use of the money to improve their National Insurance record.
Steve Webb, a former pensions minister, described the grandparents who have claimed credits as “a drop in the ocean”.
“It is increasingly common for grandparents to spend some time each week looking after their grandchildren, often to enable a parent to go out to work. It would be quite wrong if these grandparents suffered financially in terms of their own state pension as a result,” he said.
“This scheme needs to be much better publicised and I would encourage any family with a grandparent under pension age who helps out with the childcare to find out more.”