To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she has taken to (a) mitigate the effects of the pause in face-to-face interviews and issuing of National Insurance numbers and (b) bring in alternative plans in the interim.
1 March 2021
The Department is aware of the effect that not having a National Insurance Number (NINo) may be having on some individuals. However, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs’ employer checklist makes it clear that a NINo is not required to start work.
Individuals seeking work in the UK can start work before they receive a NINo as long as they are able to prove they have the Right to Work in the UK.
The Department started testing a partial digital solution, on a small scale, in mid-October, to support the allocation of National Insurance Numbers. This solution enables the collection of an applicant’s data, but not the online verification of their identity. Alternative identity verification solutions to reduce the need for a face to face identity check for some customer groups, including EU nationals with Settled or Pre-Settled status, was part of that test.
In January, we gained Government Digital Service approval as a result we were no longer required to limit the number of applicants we can serve, although we do not have an identity solution for all potential applicants yet. Our current plan is that by the end of March 2021 we will be able to offer a service to all applicants who do not require their identity to be verified face to face.
This means that we have moved from a position in March 2020 of only offering a NINo service to the most vulnerable, to a place where we are able to provide a service to the majority.