Thousands of grandparents that help take care of their grandchildren, could be missing out on thousands of pounds in state pension.
Following a freedom of information request to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), financial services firm Royal London has discovered that grandparents are failing to take advantage of a scheme set up to help plug any gaps in their national insurance record that they suffer as a result of caring for grandchildren.
Current rules allow working mums to sign a form (CA9176) that allows grandparents – or any other family members – who are yet to reach state pension age, receive national insurance credits for caring for their child.
According to Royal London, a grandparent of working age, that spends one year caring for a grandchild, would lose 1/35th of the state pension – equivalent to £231 a year, or £4,500 over 20 years.
In the year to September 2016, just 1,298 grandparents took advantage of the ‘specified adult childcare credit’. However, Royal London research suggests that as many as 100,000 could benefit if there was more awareness of the scheme.
Claims can even be backdated as far as April 2011.
Steve Webb, director of policy at Royal London says: “Many families rely heavily on the support provided by grandparents to enable them to combine paid work and family life.
“The fact that there is a scheme to make sure that grandparents do not lose out, by protecting their state pension rights, is a very good thing. But the scheme is not much use if hardly anyone takes it up. The government needs to act quickly to alert mothers to the fact that they can sign over the national insurance credits that they do not need”.
His views are echoed by Dr Lucy Peake, chief executive of charity Grandparents Plus: “Grandparents play a crucial role in caring for millions of children up and down the country, and are a lifeline to families squeezed by falling incomes and rising childcare costs.
“When they give up their own jobs to help out, they shouldn’t damage their future state pension in the process, and the system for making sure grandparents are protected in this situation needs to be much better publicised. The contribution they are making within their families and to the wider economy is enormous, and it’s important that it’s recognised.”