To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment her Department has made of the adequacy of the National Insurance number application process for EU citizens; and if she will make a statement.
7 September 2020
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has continued to monitor all aspects of the National Insurance Number (NINo) process throughout recent months, as we continue to respond to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on our services.
When applying for a NINo, all applicants are required to have their identity verified. For those applicants whose identity has already been verified by another UK Government Department, primarily the Home Office, their applications are dealt with by post. For those who have not had their identity verified, primarily EU/EEA nationals, the current process requires them to attend a face to face interview with DWP to verify their identity.
Due to COVID-19, the face to face interview process was suspended from 17th March 2020. This enabled us to retrain and redeploy a large number of staff to help process the substantial number of benefit claims received during this period.
It is not possible, due to the requirement to examine customers’ ID documents, to offer a virtual service. However, we are working on a digital solution that should enable us to restart the process incrementally by the end of September 2020.
Employers are required to conduct mandatory Right to Work checks on all prospective employees. Having a NINo is not part of these checks, and the possession of a NINo does not prove that an individual has a right to work. Indeed, an individual can apply for a job and take up employment without a NINo and the HMRC standard process allows payment of salary and collection of tax and NI without a NINo.