HC Deb 20 June 1995 vol 262 c226W
Ms Primarolo

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security in what circumstances the Contributions Agency is sending out a form asking people why they believe they are in receipt of benefit. [29014]

Mr. Arbuthnot

Operational matters relating to the Contributions Agency are the responsibility of Mrs. Faith Boardman, the chief executive. She will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Mrs. Faith Boardman to Ms Dawn Primarolo, dated 19 June 1995: As Chief Executive of the Contributions Agency, I have responsibility for answering questions about operational matters relating to the Agency and the National Insurance Scheme. I have been asked to reply to your question concerning forms sent to people asking why they believe they are in receipt of benefit. Whilst there are no formally laid down circumstances in which this question is asked of a customer, there are occasions where it may be necessary to do so. For example, when the Agency is investigating non-payment of National Insurance contributions by self-employed contributors it is possible that the contributor may allege that he or she was, or is, in receipt of benefit. This might affect both the amount of National Insurance contributions outstanding and the course of action that the Agency will take. It may prove necessary in these circumstances to contact the person concerned for more information about any benefit claims. Alternatively a person may learn, possibly from a notification issued by the Agency, that insufficient contributions were paid in a particular year to make that year qualify for benefit purposes, and may query this. It is possible that the customer may be entitled to credits for periods in which benefits were paid that could make up the shortfall. In investigating some of these cases it may be necessary to contact customers to obtain details of benefit claims so that their National Insurance records can be put right. These two examples do not cover every eventuality which could result in such enquiries being made. And we avoid making such enquiries when we have enough information to resolve the customers enquiry internally. I hope these examples indicate why it is sometimes important, and in individual customers' own interests, that the Agency sometimes asks questions about benefit claims. I hope that you will find this information useful. If I can be of any further assistance please let me know.

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