At the moment only 35% of women in retirement get the full basic pension compared to around 95% of men. Many women have broken employment records due to taking time out of work to raise children, resulting in reduced national insurance contributions. In other words, they haven’t paid their stamps. Of course this is grossly unfair.
Now, or rather in a short while when the amendment to the pensions bill becomes law, women will be able to buy back national insurance contributions from previous years when they were out of work. This means they can top up their contributions to qualify for a full state pension.
Gordon Lishman, Director General of Age Concern, said: “We are absolutely delighted by this decision which will give thousands of older women the opportunity to build up a better state pension.”
In 2010 the number of years of NI contributions needed to qualify for a full basic state pension will come down to 30 for both men and women. At the moment men need 44 years and women need 39. Those who want to benefit from this new expansion of the ability to top up will need to have 20 years’ contributions already to qualify.
This is good news but in reality it’s very little and it doesn’t apply to everybody. You still need to have made your own arrangements if you want a comfortable retirement.