Seven million Britons invited to top up state pension

older man and woman on cliff top Image copyright Thinkstock

More than seven million Britons are being offered the chance to top up their state pensions.

Men over the age of 65 and women over the age of 63 can get up to £25 a week extra on their state pension, in return for a one-off payment.

How much they have to pay will depend on their exact age; the older they get, the lower the cost.

The offer is open to existing pensioners and anyone who will reach state pension age before April 2016.

After that date, the new, more generous, single-tier pension will kick in.

The current basic state pension is worth up to £115 .95. The new flat-rate pension will be worth up to £155 a week to those that qualify.

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Should I top up my state pension?

More details on the top-up scheme

'Particularly attractive'

The new top-up scheme, known as Class 3A contributions, will provide an income that will rise with inflation.

Spouses or civil partners will be able to inherit at least half of that income when the pensioner dies.

About seven million people are currently of pensionable age, according to the Pensions Policy Institute (PPI), and are therefore eligible to take part.

But the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) concedes that it will not be suitable for everyone, and expects around 265,000 to take up the offer.

"It won't be right for everybody and it's important to seek guidance or advice to check if it's the right option for you," said Pensions Minister Baroness Altmann.

"But it could be particularly attractive for those who haven't had the chance to build significant amounts of state pension, particularly many women and people who have been self-employed."

The maximum extra income possible will be £1,300 a year, or £25 a week. The younger someone's age, the more they will pay for a given level of income.

So someone aged 65, who wants an extra income of £10 a week, would have to pay a lump sum of £8,900.

But at the age of 75 they would only have to pay £6,740.

Those wanting to apply will now have 18 months to do so. Unlike pensioner bonds, there is no limited pot of money, so the DWP said there was no need to rush to apply.

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