Top up your state pension now to avoid contribution cost hike in April

16 January 2019

Those considering paying voluntary National Insurance Contributions (NICs) should get their skates on or face a hike in the cost of making up gaps.

Contribution costs are set to rise from 5 April with the new tax year.

Pension provider Royal London is warning those thinking of filling the gaps to make contributions before this date.

For instance, making an annual rate contribution for tax year 2010/11 currently costs £626.60. If you make the contribution after 5 April however, the cost shoots up by £153.40 to £780.

Those who reach pension age after 5 April 2016, who come under the new state pension system can fill gaps in their National Insurance record at these more favourable rates until the end of the tax year.

Steve Webb, Royal London director of policy and former pensions minister, comments: “For many people, topping up their state pension through paying voluntary NICs can produce a good rate of return because the cost of doing so is subsidised by the government. 

“But the price of voluntary NICs will rise sharply in April so those considering doing so may wish to act quickly and could save hundreds of pounds by doing so.”

It is however essential to check that filling the gaps will boost your state pension before doing so as complex transitional rules mean that top ups might not actually boost your state pension income.

You can do this by checking your state pension on the government website or by speaking to the Future Pension Centre on 0800 731 0175.

The table below shows the additional costs that you will incur for top ups after 5 April 2019:

Contribution year(s)Weekly RateAnnual rate if bought by 5 April 2019Annual rate after 5 April 2019Additional cost
2006/07-2009/10 inclusive£13.25£689.00£780£91.00

Source: Royal London, January 2019

Financial planners are actively encouraging their clients to pay ahead of the end of the tax year.

Jon Treharne, managing director of Shore Financial Planning, says: “Many people will be unaware that the cost of filling historic gaps in their National Insurance record is due to be hiked in April.

“I would encourage anyone thinking of filling such gaps and who has checked that they will increase their pension by doing so, to consider whether they would be best advised to top up before 6th April”.

Why you should top up your NICs

Even paying the higher amount to make up missed years can prove good value for money as each tax year paid represents 1/35th of your entire state pension entitlement.

From the new tax year those with full state pension entitlement will receive around £168.60 per week. This means that each additional year you plug is worth around £4.80 per week for life.

This is equivalent to £250 per year. So, if you pay one extra year of NICs you’ll earn back what you paid in three years.

With the contribution costs rising from 5 April, it makes sense to get the extra contributions paid for now as you’ll get the same amount of state pension for less than after the new tax year.

However, it is important to consider your personal lifestyle and any health issues you might have or foresee, as you might not live long enough to reap the benefit of extra contributions if you are in poor health.



In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I think your article is inaccurate in that for someone who is yet to claim the "new" state pension, topping up for missing years before 5 April 2016 will not increase the amount you will receive when you do reach pensionable age. I believe this is because, as your article states, the new form of the state pension came into being the day after this date.I was born in Nov 1955 & will start claiming my pension at age 66 in 2021. A couple of years ago I tried to top up my NI contributions, which were incomplete, for the year 2015 to 2016 - the last year I was in gainful employment. The Govt. agencies allowed me to do this but it had no effect on my pension forecast for 2021. When I transferred this money, and a little bit more to obtain a full year's contribution, to year 2016-17 instead, my pension forecast was increased by £4.80 per week.I therefore suggest that you make it clear to people that it only makes sense to pay for additional NI contributions from year 2016-17 onwards, otherwise they are wasting their money.

In reply to by Graham (not verified)

Moneywise - please review this article as it seems to be at best incomplete, and probably just plain wrong!This is a serious matter as N.I contributions once paid cannot be claimed back, and unless people check with the Future Pensions Service, they could end up paying money in and completely wasting their money!

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

This information is useful but does not tell me how to proceed. I.e. who do I contact etc.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Anyone considering topping up their National Insurance Contributions might also want to consider the risk of a future government adopting a recent IMF suggestion to make state pensions means-tested (Search this Moneywise site for "uk-state-pension-should-be-means-tested-says-international-monetary-fund?"- published 23 November 2018). Seems to me that if I top up now to get an increased state pension at some point in the future, I might have wasted my money if means-testing takes my state pension away?

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Recently spoke to the Future Pensions office and was informed that the future rate for the last six years won't change to £780 as the chart implies. as we enter a new FY 2019/2020 the oldest year drops off and the latest complete FY, in this case 2018/2019 NI rate is added to the last six years. As is stated you can pay past NI rates to 2010?? because of the introduction of the New State Pension in 2016. So after April 2019 paying voluntary contributions for FY 2012/2013 will still be £689. That's what they told me so someone has been confused??????? Or have I misunderstood the chart.Article referred to was: Top up your state pension now to avoid contribution cost hike in April by Edmund Greaves dated 16 Jan 2019

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I am behind on my National Insurance contributions as I have not worked for many years. (I am a full-time carer for a family member). I am not entitled to Carer's Allowance as the family member refuses to claim Attendance Allowance and I have had to live off my savings. Anyway, last year I topped up my National Insurance to make up some of the missed years. I asked whether I had now paid enough to claim a full pension and was told 'yes'. I subsequently received a letter telling me that since paying I now have 30 years' worth of National Insurance! So it appears I'm still 5 years' worth underpaid. Will I be able to pay the missing 5 years' worth in one go, in the next month or so? I'm not that many years off pension age, myself and need to get this sorted.

In reply to by Rowland James (not verified)

I’m confused I have been looking at paying in additional years I have been advised only from 2016/17 from a cost of £555 ( part payment of NI contribution) in the first year to £750 to £780 at various years up to 2019/2020 benfit £4.82 a week per year.. Why does it only benefit to pay after 2016/17 years you comment suggets anything before this date is of no benfit. In addition I will proably pay 20% tax on this income is it worth it. I calculated that I need to live another 3 years to benfit from any additional years my retirement age is 2021.

In reply to by Geoff (not verified)

Hi Geoff,

We have reviewed the information in this article and it remains correct. Here are the sources from the government:

However, we have amended the sentence regarding the Future Pension Centre to highlight that due to the complexities of transitions relating to the old and new state pensions it may not be worth topping up for some people.

As we stated in the article, it is best to check with the Future Pension Centre before proceeding.


Moneywise Edmund

In reply to by Tom Law (not verified)

1, Did you read this paragraph?"It is however essential to check that filling the gaps will boost your state pension before doing so. You can do this by checking your state pension on the government website or by speaking to the Future Pension Centre on 0800 731 0175."2. Be very careful. This article is seriously misleading, if not just plain WRONG!

In reply to by Dog walker (not verified)

I suggest you don't dignify this ridiculous suggestion by the IMF by giving it any more air time!The state pension is something we have paid of in N.I. contributions, it is not a "hand out".There seems to be a popular idea that retired folk have it too good and should be taxed more to help the young. What message does that send to people who are deciding whether to spend their money in the present, or be responsible and make provision for their retirement?

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Warning! The paragraph that says:"It is however essential to check that filling the gaps will boost your state pension before doing so. You can do this by checking your state pension on the government website or by speaking to the Future Pension Centre on 0800 731 0175." needs to be highlighted much more in this article!!In my case, I have about 8 incomplete years that HMRC would allow me to pay to make up, but making up years prior to the rule change that brought in the new state pension WILL MAKE NO DIFFERENCE to my state pension, and additional contributions in the years that you illustrate would not benefit me in any way!.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

According to HMRC, my wife has "40 qualifying years during which sufficient NICs have been paid or credited to make that year count towards benefits....”. They list each of the years and states “payment not needed” for each of them. Yet, according to the Department of Work & Pensions, she needs "to continue to contribute National Insurance to reach your [state pension] forecast” & “if you contribute another 5 years”. I don't understand why her 40 years of NICs contributions don't entitle her to the full state pension.

In reply to by Adrian Jacobs (not verified)

"Qualifying years"

That's because once you start, you can't stop! Regardless if the "number of qualifying years" you have, you have to pay until you reach State retirement age. I am in a similar position, I have over 40 years of NICs, but had to retire due to ill health. Because I don't claim any "qualifying benefits", my Pension will be reduced unless I pay additional Class 3 (voluntary) NICs.

In reply to by Jfm (not verified)

Try claiming Carers Credit (not the same thing as carers allowance) from now on. It would give you NI credits. You may be able to get round the attendance allowance problem by getting doctor to complete care certificate as part of the application. See

In reply to by Fh (not verified)

State pension

I took early retirement at age 53 after being made redundant in the knowledge that I had paid 35 years NI contributions expecting full state pension I have just checked what I will receive in 2021 when I officially retire and I was shocked to discover that I will only receive £133 a week and if I contribute from now until 2021 it would increase to a maximum of £148 a week yet everywhere I look it says full pension with 35 years contributions I don’t understand

back payments

I am missing 9 years of class 3 contributions. Can I pay them as a single premium. i live overseas but have a UK bank account from which the payments will be made. I will be 60 next birthday and would like to max my state pension due at age 66. Thank you

Is it worth it?

I’m 32 and have lived overseas for 6 years travelling so I have no other secure pension. I have 10yrs full contributions. Should I pay the 6 I have been away?

Consider whether you might work again before state pension age

If you aren't working and the number of years to your state pension age is more than the NI years you lack, then before paying voluntary contributions you need to consider "can I/will I ever work again" - either in employment or self-employment. Because if you work you will have to pay NI until you reach state pension age - and as pointed out above there's no point in accruing more than 35 years.

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