With the Government issuing a stream of press releases praising the move, the Pensions Bill has been amended to allow people to buy up to an additional six years of pension contributions voluntarily in order to boost their state pensions.
The ruling applies to all those reaching state pension age between 6 April 2008 and 5 April 2015 who already have 20 ‘qualifying years’ on their pension record.
The move is particularly aimed at women who may have incomplete pension records when they come to retire. The state pension age for women will be raised to 65 from April 2020.
Non-working mothers in receipt of child benefit qualify for ‘Home Responsibilities Protection’ (HRP), which acts to reduce the number of qualifying years needed to obtain the basic state pension. Being in receipt of Invalid Care Allowance, Disability Working Allowance, Jobseeker's Allowance, Incapacity Benefit, Severe Disablement Allowance, Carer’s Allowance or Approved Training Family Credit operates in the same fashion.
A claim for HRP can be made at any time up to pension age, but if a claim is made in respect of any period during which you were at home caring for someone else, it must be made within three years of the relevant tax year.
In 2010, HRP will be converted into ‘pension credits’, when you will receive contributions for years during which you received child benefit for a child under 12, cared for a sick or disabled person for more than 20 hours a week or were an approved foster carer.