The number of years of work required to qualify for a full state pension in Northern Ireland is set to fall substantially.

The Stormont Department of Social Development is also introducing a new pension credit scheme for parents and carers.

At present, men in Northern Ireland need to have paid 40 years of national insurance contributions to get a full state pension.

From April next that contributions' requirement will fall to 30 years of payments.

For women, the target is also going down from 39 years to 30.

The aim is to make sure the state pension is fairer, more accessible and more widely available, and reflects better how people live and work today, the government there said.

Another new scheme will allow people who have put their careers on hold to become carers to build up credits towards a state pension.