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National Insurance Contributions: Females

Volume 477: debated on Friday 20 June 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions by what means women who opted to pay the married woman's rate of national insurance contributions prior to the abolition of the half test were advised of (a) its abolition and (b) the implications of its abolition for their continued election to pay contributions at the reduced rate. (211278)

[holding answer 16 June 2008]: The abolition of the half test for women reaching state pension age after 5 April 1979 was part of a package to encourage married women to make independent pension arrangements and to revisit their election choice. The main thrust of the early publicity was a national press advertising campaign commissioned by DSS during February and March 1977. The programme was designed to give optimum, cost effective coverage of the main target group, working housewives. In addition, there was extensive editorial news and feature coverage in newspapers, magazines, and on radio and television. According to DSS records the published articles all stressed the importance of married women making decisions on their national insurance contributions position.

Leaflets, available at local offices, were distributed by DSS. Specifically, Leaflet NP25 entitled “PENSIONS: Britain's great step forward” issued in August 1975 and Leaflet NP31 entitled “New Pensions: a better deal for women” issued in January 1977 drew attention to the abolition of the half test. Leaflet NI1 entitled “National insurance guidance for married women” issued in February 1978 dealt extensively with the implications of election choice and invited women who were proposing to change their choice and were unsure that they would be able to satisfy the contribution conditions for basic pension to consult their local social security office who would usually get their individual contribution record before giving advice.