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The Pensions Act 2007 made it easier in future for people with caring responsibilities to qualify for the State Pension. In particular, it reduced the number of qualifying years needed for a full basic State Pension (BSP) from 44 for men and 39 for women, to 30 for both men and women. It also replaced Home Responsibilities Protection (which helped protect the pension entitlement of people with caring responsibilities) with weekly carers’ credits. The reforms applied to people reaching State Pension age (SPA) on or after 6 April 2010. They increased the proportion of women reaching SPA entitled to a full BSP. People reaching SPA before 6 April 2010 did not benefit from the reforms. After much debate in Parliament, provision was introduced under the Pensions Act 2008 to enable certain people reaching SPA between 6 April 2008 and 5 April 2015 to buy an additional 6 years of voluntary Class 3 NICs for tax years from 1975/76.

This note provides an overview of the contribution conditions for the Category A basic State Pension and how these changed under the 2007 Act. The current Government is legislating to introduce a single-tier State Pension for future pensioners from 6 April 2016. People who reach State Pension age before that date will continue to get their state pension under current rules. The contribution conditions for the single-tier pension are discussed in Library Note SN 6817 – Single-tier State Pension – contribution conditions.

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