Former Pensions Minister, Sir Steve Webb, has said that tens of thousands of grandparents are missing out on National Insurance (NI) credits, which could be worth more than £230 a year when they retire.

Mothers who give up work are given NI credits while their children are under 12. Under the Specified Adult Childcare credits scheme introduced in 2011, if they return to work the credits can instead be claimed by relatives of working age who care for the child in question – in most cases, this will be grandparents.

A grandparent or other relative who takes part in the scheme for a full year is able to claim an extra 1/35th of the state pension – worth £231 a year.

It has been suggested that, in the year to the end of September 2016, only 1,300 people claimed the credits. However, Sir Webb, who is now Director of Policy at Royal London, believes that as many as 100,000 relatives could be entitled to claim them, and wants the government to do more to raise awareness of their availability.

He said: ‘The scheme is not much use if hardly anyone takes it up. The government needs to act quickly to alert mothers to the fact that they can sign over the NI credits that they do not need.’

Those who have missed out on the scheme can make backdated claims for all the years to 2011.

The application form can be found here.