Earn while you care for your grandchildren

Babysitting a child could give you a pension top-up, says Paul Lewis

Grandma and grandchildren (3 yrs+2yrs) baking

A weekly phone call or video chat with a grandchild might be enough to earn valuable credits to boost your state pension. The National Insurance credits are given to a family member who cares for a child so that their parent can go to work – as little as once a week is sufficient, and because of the pandemic you don’t even have to be physically present with the child.

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A video call to help with a child’s homework or a phone chat to ensure they are home and safe is now sufficient if their parent was at work at the time. These temporary rules for the pandemic cover the tax years 2019/20 and 2020/21, and you can apply for credits now.

The child must be under 12,and the parent must get child benefit for them and pay National Insurance Contributions at work. You must be under state pension age for the whole tax year.

If you qualify, you will get a Class 3 National Insurance credit for each week you care for the child on at least one occasion during the week to allow their parent to work. Even if  you have paid the 35 years of contributions normally needed to get a full pension, a year of these credits before you reach state pension age can boost your state pension entitlement if you also  have a pension from your job.

Of course, for younger children the care will be face to face. Perhaps you pick them up from school, or you take them out one day a week in the school holidays. Socially distanced caring will also count. Grandparents too young to get the state pension are the most likely to benefit but other family members such as uncles or aunts can qualify.

You get the credits because the parent, who is paying National Insurance at work, does not need the National Insurance credit that comes with their child benefit. So they can be transferred to you. The claim form must be filled in online and signed by both parent and carer.

Find more details at gov.uk(search ‘specified adult childcare’).  Helpline: 0300 200 3500.

Paul Lewis presents Money Box on Radio 4.  QUESTIONS? Send any questions to Paul.Lewis@radiotimes.com Paul cannot answer you personally, but will reflect them in this column

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