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Welfare Reform and Pensions Act 1999

Commentary

Section 69: Child Benefit: claimant to state national insurance number

This section requires all people claiming Child Benefit either to state their national insurance number, giving proof that it is theirs, or to provide information that would enable their national insurance number to be found or a number to be allocated for them.

This applies to the adult claimant (usually a parent), rather than the child on whose behalf Child Benefit is claimed (children under 16 would not normally have national insurance numbers).

Section 19 of the Social Security Administration (Fraud) Act 1997 makes entitlement to most benefits conditional on the production of a national insurance number. However, because of the definition of “benefit” used (in section 1(4) of the Administration Act), the requirement does not apply to Child Benefit.

Section 69 ensures that the requirement will apply to Child Benefit, by adding new subsections (1A) to (1C) to the rules for claiming Child Benefit set out in section 13 of the Administration Act.

The Fraud Act allowed regulations to be made exempting certain categories of people from the requirement to supply a national insurance number. The inserted subsection (1C) allows exceptions to be made by regulations for claims to Child Benefit: for example, for certain members of voluntary and charitable bodies.

The requirement in the Fraud Act did apply to Guardian’s Allowance. However, since entitlement to Guardian’s Allowance is conditional upon the receipt of Child Benefit, regulations were made to exempt it. As a consequence of this section, it is intended that further regulations will be made to remove this exemption.

Background

Although a national insurance number is currently not legally required for a claim to Child Benefit, it is requested. In practice, approximately 95%-97% of new claimants do provide national insurance numbers.

The requirement to supply a national insurance number and supporting evidence was introduced to help secure the benefits system against abuse. In addition, national insurance numbers are essential for the efficient processing of benefit claims on the computer systems used by the DSS. For example, the use of a national insurance number enables the Child Benefit system to relay details of a claim to the National Insurance Recording System, which stores people’s contributions records. This ensures the accurate assessment of Home Responsibility Protection (HRP) which safeguards the pension entitlement of those who are unable to work due to caring responsibilities.

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