To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people were sent letters from HM Revenue and Customs in (a) 2004, (b) 2005 and (c) 2006 inviting them to top up their national insurance (NI) contributions to ensure that they are entitled to the basic state pension; what estimate he has made of the number of these letters which were incorrectly sent to people who had paid their full NI contributions; how many payments HM Revenue and Customs has received from people who had received such incorrect notices; how much was received; how many people have been notified that the letters were incorrect; how many refunds have been made; what circumstances led to the error; and what steps his Department is taking to rectify the error.
The following numbers of letters were sent to people to advise them that they had a gap in their national insurance contributions record:
(a) 3.7 million letters were issued in 2004 for the 2002-03 tax year,
(b) 3.2 million letters were issued in 2005 for the 2003-04 tax year
(c) 4.7 million letters were issued in 2006 for the 2004-05 tax year.
It is not possible to provide the information on the following as it is not held:
how many letters were incorrectly sent, how many payments and what total amount of money HMRC has received from people who had received such notices, how many people were notified the letters were incorrect, how many refunds made.
The reasons for the delay in processing 2004-05 Employers' Annual Returns are well documented and I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on