§ Mr. Battle
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what steps are being taken by his Department to improve the collection of outstanding national insurance contributions from employers and employees; and what are the specific staffing, computerisation and time resources committed to collection.523W
§ Mrs. Gillian Shephard
I refer the hon. Member to my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Wanstead and Woodford (Mr. Arbuthnot) on 21 May at columns80–81 about improving the collection of national insurance contributions.
At present some 1,600 inspectors are employed. There will be better training for these inspectors and in the first instance there will be 100 more of them to perform the tasks.
A fully computerised national insurance records system is used for recording contributions and providing information in relation to benefit claims. It also identifies potential underpayment and non-payment of contributions in relation to employed people and employers. It is the intention to develop further the information technology support available, to record such contributions and to assist the inspectorate.