To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment he has made of trends in the time taken to issue national insurance numbers to applicants.
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 and in line with government guidelines, the face to face interview process was suspended from 17th March 2020. The resource normally deployed in this area were redeployed to process the substantial number of benefit claims received during this period.
DWP re-instated a limited service for customers, who do not require a face to face interview, in June. Since then the average time taken to clear an application for a NINo from the point of application is received, to decision, has been:
June - 11.4 days
July - 5.4 days
August - 4.5 days
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 from the end of September 2020.