Family members providing free childcare over the phone or by video call can apply for National Insurance(NI) credits to be added to their State Pension.

NI credits were introduced in April 2011 and you may be entitled to receive these if you are a grandparent, or other family member, who cares for a child under 12 - usually while their parent, or main carer, is working, even from home.

Since March 2020, normal caring arrangements have been affected by coronavirus, but if you have provided care in a different way, for example over the phone, by video call, or socially distanced contact, you can still apply for NI credits for the financial years 2019 to 2020 and 2020 to 2021.

Specified Adult Childcare credits work by transferring the NI credit attached to Child Benefit from the Child Benefit recipient to a family member who is providing care for a related child under 12, or 17 if they have disabilities.

The coronavirus pandemic has changed how grandparents provide care for their grandchildren

If no -one has claimed Child Benefit for the child there is no attached NI credit to transfer and Specified Adult Care credits cannot be awarded.

Kay Ingram, Director of Public Policy at national financial planning group LEBC recently explained: “Each credit currently buys £250 of annual State Pension, payable for life from State Pension ag.

“Those carers not paying National Insurance themselves can claim these valuable top-ups to their State Pension.”

Ms Ingram added: “ HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) believe that this benefit is under-claimed, and many who are eligible are therefore missing out.

“Those who have been providing childcare in earlier years can backdate their claim to the point at which the scheme started i.e. in 2011. This could mean claiming up to nine years’ credits, currently worth £2,340 of annual State Pension.

“Many older women have less than the 35 years of NI credits from their own working life, which contributes to the Gender Pension Gap which means those supporting younger generations by providing free childcare can improve their retirement prospects.”

Who can apply for Specified Adult Childcare credits?

You can apply for Specified Adult Childcare credits if:

The child’s parent (or main carer) must agree to your application by countersigning the form to confirm that:

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When to apply

Specified Adult Childcare credits can be awarded retrospectively, to 6 April 2011 at the earliest.

Applications for a particular tax year cannot be accepted until the following October at the earliest.

Which means for the tax year 2020 to 2021 applications will open in October 2021.

How to apply

To apply for Specified Adult Childcare credits you will need to complete an online interactive application form.

The application requires the:

For full details on Specified Adult Childcare credits and to apply for NI credits, visit the GOV.UK website here.

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