DWP state pension warning over contribution top-ups – exact date of deadline

There has been a surge in the number of people paying for Voluntary (‘Class 3’) contributions as they rush to fill gaps in their National Insurance record and build up a full state retirement pension.

One reason for the surge in contributions has been the deadlines for filling gaps going back more than six years.

Under normal rules it is only possible to fill gaps for the past six years but, under a special concession, savers were allowed to go back to 2006/07 provided they made contributions before April 5, 2023.

Publicity around this deadline led to a surge in contributions just before the deadline, with phone lines unable to cope with the demand. As a result, the deadline was initially extended to July 2023 and then extended again to April 2025.

For most people, voluntary NI contributions represent exceptionally good value as they are subsidised by the Government.

READ MORE: Full list of DWP benefits you can’t claim when you reach state pension age

Those wishing to pay for previous years are currently charged £15.85 per week or £824.20 to fill a full historic gap year.

This will typically add 1/35 of the full state pension rate or just over £300 per year.

This means that anyone who draws a pension for at least three years (or at least four years allowing for basic rate tax) will generally win out from paying voluntary NICs.

New figures published by HMRC show in the year to March 31, 2023, a total of £392million was paid in voluntary contributions compared with £212million to March 2022 and £172million the year before.

At present, contributors have to first phone the ‘Future Pension Centre’ at the DWP to find out about filling gaps and then phone HMRC to get a ‘code’ to make sure their payment is correctly allocated.

Even those who get through this process have often reported long delays between making contributions and seeing their record or state pension forecast updated.

The Government has promised to set up an online version of the system which would allow people to top up without needing to make multiple phone calls, but this has not yet gone live.

Commenting, Steve Webb said: “The surge in voluntary payments of National Insurance Contributions highlights the great opportunity which they present.

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“At best, voluntary NICs are a relatively cheap way of boosting your state retirement pension and represent excellent value for most people.

“But too many people have had problems getting through on phone lines or getting their NI records updated. The government urgently needs to streamline this process so that more people can benefit”.

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