The government was boasting last month of its plans to ensure that half a million people would be entitled to the full state pension despite not having paid sufficient national insurance (NI).
These would mostly be women who had taken time out from work to bring up children or to care for relatives. They would be able to buy extra “years” of NI contributions to make up the defecit.
But last week the pension minister Rosie Winterton was forced to admit that only one in five of those the government had pledged to help would actually benefit. She expects only 110,000 people to successfully apply for the new scheme.
Moreover, the scheme will cost the government nothing because it plans to increase the cost of the extra NI contributions to be bought.
“We have to balance the need for individuals with the need not to draw enormously on the public purse,” said Winterton.