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Pensions Act (Northern Ireland) 2008

Section 3: Contributions credits for relevant parents and carers

Section 3(1) inserts a new section 23A into the Contributions and Benefits Act to replace the existing home responsibilities protection with new crediting arrangements for parents, approved foster parents and carers reaching state pension age on or after 6th April 2010.

New section 23A(1) provides that the new crediting arrangements for parents and carers apply to the following benefits:

  • a Category A pension for a pensioner who reaches state pension age on or after 6th April 2010;

  • a Category B pension for the spouse or civil partner of a person reaching state pension age on or after 6th April 2010 (or who dies on or after that date without reaching that age); and

  • widowed parent’s allowance or bereavement allowance payable to the surviving spouse of a person who dies on or after 6th April 2010.

Subsection (2) provides for the contributor to be credited with a Class 3 national insurance contribution for each week after 6th April 2010 in which they are a relevant carer as defined in subsection (3).

Subsection (3) defines a person as a relevant carer in respect of a week if they are:

  • a person awarded child benefit in any part of that week for a child aged under age 12 ;

  • a foster parent in any part of that week; or

  • “engaged in caring” in that week.

Subsection (4) provides a regulation-making power to make entitlement to credits for foster parents and those engaged in caring to be conditional on the application process being complied with, and on the prescribed information being provided. The information which will be required is information that would confirm that a person is undertaking qualifying care.

Subsections (5) to (7) allow individuals reaching state pension age, or dying, on or after 6th April 2010 to have any complete years of home responsibilities protection, acquired before 6th April 2010, converted to an equivalent number of fully credited years for the purposes of entitlement to basic state pension and bereavement benefits. The number of home responsibilities protection years which may be converted to qualifying years will be subject to upper limits broadly along the lines of the existing rules. In the case of a Category A or B pension the limit is 22 years. In the case of widowed parent’s allowance or bereavement allowance the limit is half the requisite number of years in the contributor’s working life.

Subsection (8) provides that in circumstances where a week straddles two tax years, a credit for that week will be attributed to the tax year in which the week begins.

Subsection (9) enacts both definitions and regulation-making powers for the purposes of new section 23A. In particular, it enables “foster parent” to be defined in regulations.

Abolition of adult dependency increases

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