The Department for Work and Pensions is shortly to begin trialling a digital service for issuing National Insurance numbers.
The department has been developing the service for some time and, by the middle of this month, will have a minimum viable product ready to enter private beta phase. Once it has done so, the online system “will initially be available to a limited number of applicants each day”, according to employment minister Mims Davies.
Until now, the DWP has not been able to issue numbers remotely. Many applicants have needed to verify their identity by attending a face-to-face meeting and those that have not have been served only by a postal service.
“When applying for a NINo (National Insurance number), all applicants are required to have their identity verified, Davies added. “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.”
The introduction of the digital process comes after seven months after face-to-face interviews were suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. A “limited service” for those applicants who did not require in-person appointments was restarted in June.
“The DWP has continued to monitor all aspects of the National Insurance Number process throughout recent months, as we continue to respond to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and its effect on our services,” Davies added.
The employment minister was answering written parliamentary questions from Labour MPs Daniel Zeichner and Catherine West.
Sam Trendall is editor of CSW's sister title PublicTechnology, where a version of this story first appeaed.