As a parent, could you be forgoing your state pension?

There’s no reason why being a parent, and especially being a non-earning parent with responsibilities to their children, should put you in danger of reducing your state pension entitlement. At this time, however, there are possibly hundreds of thousands of people in this precise situation—although fortunately, there are actions to take so that it can be got around.

In order to be entitled to the full new state pension, you will normally require 35 years of national insurance contributions (NICs) to qualify. Those years of contributions can be tough to build up if you’re out of work for whatever reason. If you don’t already pay NICs, perhaps because you’re remaining at home to look after children, you are able to accumulate your state pension entitlement by registering for child benefits, as long as you’re a parent of children under 12.

Figures supplied to the Treasury by HMRC suggest that there could be something like 200,000 households missing out on these pension increasing entitlements. If the child benefits are being claimed by the household’s highest earner, and not the lower earner or non-earner, these potential NICs can come to nothing. Treasury select committee chairman and MP Nicky Morgan says; “The Treasury committee has long-warned the government of the risk that for families with one earner and one non-earner, if the sole-earner claims child benefit, the non-earner, with childcare commitments forgoes NICs and potentially, therefore, their entitlement to a full future state pension.”

With 7.9 million UK households presently in receipt of child benefits, there is potential for a great number of people to be affected. Thanks to data from the Department for Work and Pensions, it’s thought that around 3% of those (around 200,000) may be in this position. It’s worth noting that the family resources survey covered 19,000 UK households and as the estimate is sample-based, there is some uncertainty on the exact numbers of those at risk. Nicky Morgan continues, “Now that we have an idea of the scale of this problem, the Government needs to pull its finger out and make sure that people are aware of the issue and know how to put it right.”

If you have any questions around this topic, please feel free to get in touch with us directly on 01789 263888 or email