A request under the Freedom of Information Act has revealed that just 1,300 people have claimed National Insurance (NI) credits, which can help them ensure their entitlement to the full state pension when they reach retirement age, if they have left employment to care for grandchildren or other relatives under the age of 12.
With more grandparents helping parents manage the soaring costs of childcare, the former pensions minister, Sir Steve Webb, has said that he estimates that as many as 100,000 people could be eligible for the credits if they were aware of them.
Specified Adult Childcare credits enable a relative who is under state pension age, and who cares for a child under 12 whilst the parent or main carer is working, to claim NI credits in respect of the time they are not themselves working.
The credits could be worth as much as £4,600 over 20 years of retirement.
To apply, parents or main carers in receipt of Child Benefit will need to have completed a full qualifying year for NI and sign the declarations on the tax credit application.
Sir Webb said: “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.”