Mothers are being encouraged to check whether they may be entitled to some additional cash after being underpaid state pension money.
Consultants LCP have launched a campaign urging people to check their entitlements.
Since the late 1970s, the state pensions system has included measures to protect parents with gaps in their National Insurance (NI) records because of time spent out of paid work bringing up children.
The system was originally called “home responsibilities protection” (HRP) and is now known as National Insurance credits.
I would encourage anyone who has received child benefit since 1978/79 to check that the relevant credits are on their NI record
Sir Steve Webb
Sir Steve Webb, a former pensions minister who is now a partner at LCP said: “Yet again, this error overwhelmingly affects women, and undoubtedly means that many thousands have been underpaid for years.
“Rather than wait for the Government to fix the problem, I would encourage anyone who has received child benefit since 1978/79 to check that the relevant credits are on their NI record.
“If not, this can be fixed by filling in a form, and the result could well be a higher pension and a worthwhile lump sum.”
In one case seen recently seen by LCP, Lorraine Wainwright, 68, from Gloucestershire, was given a lump sum of around £1,500 and her regular state pension will now be increased by more than £20 per week, after Sir Steve took up her case.
Mrs Wainwright said: “I would encourage any parent who spent time bringing up children to check that they are getting credits on their NI record.
“If I had not checked my own record carefully, it is quite possible I would still be getting the wrong rate of pension. I welcome this new campaign, which could help thousands of mothers to get their dues.”
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) said Mrs Wainwright first contacted it in June 2020 enquiring about HRP. The revenue body said it sent a form, which it received back, and had tried phoning her for more information, but could not get an answer, so it wrote to her requesting the information. It then received another form in March 2022 applying for HRP and it has written to Mrs Wainwright to inform her of her award.
The Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP’s) annual accounts report recently said that there were historic errors whereby credits for time at home with children were not recorded accurately on NI records.
Activity has been under way in HMRC, supported by the department, to understand more about the scale, potential causes and options to correct these cases, the report said.
To help parents see if this issue applies to them, LCP has launched a campaign website – lcp.uk.com/mothers-missing-millions – which takes parents through the steps to check their entitlement, check their NI record and to complete a form to get their entitlement added if necessary.
The DWP started an exercise in January 2021 to address state pension cases where people were being underpaid.
This included people who are widowed but whose state pension was not uplifted to include amounts they were entitled to inherit; people who are married or in a civil partnership who may be automatically entitled to an uplift based on spouse contributions; and people aged 80 and above who are entitled to a certain minimum pension payment.
A Government spokesperson said: “This year we will spend over £110 billion on the state pension and support over 12.5 million pensioners.
“We are investigating an issue with the historical recording of home responsibilities protection, with work under way to identify those affected.”