The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Nigel Huddleston)
The pensions Minister, my hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool North and Cleveleys (Paul Maynard), and I can now announce that HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has started to write to people whose national insurance records may be affected by some missing periods of home responsibilities protection, inviting them to apply to fill potential gaps and ensure that they receive the state pension entitlement they are due.
Home responsibilities protection was a scheme that ran between 6 April 1978 and 5 April 2010 which reduced the number of qualifying years of national insurance contributions a person with caring responsibilities needed to receive the full basic state pension.
The Government reported the findings of our investigations into some missing historical periods of home responsibilities protection in some individuals’ records, and the associated impact on state pension awards, in the Department for Work and Pensions annual report and accounts 2022-23 (HC 1455). The main cause of the issue was that NI numbers were not always recorded when customers claimed child benefit before 2000. The Government have estimated that around 210,000 individuals may have been affected by missing periods of home responsibilities protection.
HMRC and DWP are working together to correct cases as quickly as possible. HMRC started contacting potentially impacted customers from September 2023, prioritising those above state pension age. They aim to identify and contact the majority of individuals who may have been affected over the next 18 months so that those eligible receive any arrears payments as quickly as possible.
To correct this issue, potentially impacted customers will be invited to check their eligibility and make an application to HMRC for home responsibilities protection. To help individuals determine their eligibility, a self-identification tool is available on www.gov.uk. Where an application is successful, those with a state pension impact will have their award corrected and any arrears paid. HMRC and DWP will also trigger a wider communications campaign working with key stakeholders and representative bodies to ensure that all those who may be eligible are aware of this.
Before making an application, people can learn more about home responsibilities protection, check the eligibility criteria and find the application form online at www.gov.uk/home-responsibilities-protection-hrp/eligibility. Customers under state pension age can check their national insurance and state pension forecasts online at www.gov.uk/check-state-pension.