National Insurance: Fraud

Work and Pensions written question – answered on 22nd January 2009.

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Photo of Shailesh Vara Shailesh Vara Shadow Deputy Leader of the House of Commons

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the number of (a) national insurance (NI) numbers in use, (b) unused NI numbers and (c) fake or fraudulently obtained NI numbers in each of the last five years.

Photo of Tony McNulty Tony McNulty Minister of State (Welfare Reform; Minister for London), Department for Work and Pensions

The latest available figures (2007) show a total of 76.8 million national insurance number (NINO) records on the Department's Customer Information System (CIS). These consisted of:

55.1 million Active accounts—i.e. those showing current or recent use of the NINO.

16.8 million accounts relating to people who are now deceased.

4.9 million Inactive accounts—i.e. those showing no recent activity (and which do not fall into the deceased person account category) such as people who have moved abroad.

Estimates of the number of fake or fraudulently obtained NINOs are not available. DWP has robust checks in place to verify identity prior to the allocation of a NINO and to prevent NINOs being used fraudulently within the benefit system.

Where the Department identifies that a NINO has been used for attempted benefit fraud or may be vulnerable to fraudulent use, the relevant NINO record is annotated accordingly. Any subsequent benefit claim using that NINO would automatically be subjected to close scrutiny and, if appropriate, referral to the Department's Fraud Investigation Service.

The number of NINO accounts annotated for these reasons over the last five years is in the following table:

Number of marked accounts
2003-04 2,341
2004-05 1,087
2005-06 2,521
2006-07 2,965
2007-08 3,234

1. Each year runs from 1 April to 31 March.

2. The table is derived from management information held by Jobcentre Plus National Identity Fraud Unit.

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