§ Mr. Willetts
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to his answer to the right hon. Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Field) of 12 November 2001,Official Report, column 585W, what assessments have been undertaken which show that the level of fraud on inactive national insurance accounts is no higher than for live accounts. 966W
§ Mr. Andrew Smith
In 1999, as part of the NI Integrity Programme, a review of inactive accounts (where no national insurance contributions or credits have been recorded for three or more consecutive tax years) on NIRS2 was carried out. Most of these accounts relate to women who do not have paid employment. Others relate to people who have gone to live abroad.
Part of the review resulted in an analysis of 100 accounts of contributors found guilty of fraud and 22 were inactive (22 per cent.) and 78 were live accounts. The number of fraudsters using inactive accounts appears to be in proportion to the number of inactive accounts held on NIRS2 (14 million of the 66 million accounts held on NIRS2 are inactive, which equals 21 per cent.).
We have initiated further work under the banner of the `National Insurance Number (NINO) Work Programme' sponsored by the NINO board (a joint Department for Work and Pensions and Inland Revenue project). This will look at all areas of vulnerable accounts held on the NIRS2 and Departmental Central Index systems.