§ Mr. Worthington
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) how long it takes the Contributions Agency to respond to requests for records of national insurance payments made; 
(2) what are the performance targets set for the Contributions Agency when clients seek a record of payment contributions. 
§ Mr. Arbuthnot
The administration of national insurance is the responsibility of Mr. George Bertram, the acting chief executive of the Contributions Agency. He will write to the hon. Member.781W
Letter from George Bertram to Mr. Tony Worthington, dated 29 March 1995:As Acting Chief Executive of the Contributions Agency, I have responsibility for answering questions about operational matters relating to the National Insurance scheme. I have been asked to reply to your questions about requests from customers for information about their National Insurance Contributions records. In view of the nature of the questions I have combined the responses.There is no specific performance target for the Agency to respond to requests from customers for information about their contributions records. However, one of the targets set by the Secretary of State for the Contributions Agency is to send either a full reply, or an informative response, to 95% of all customer enquiries within 10 working days of receipt. We treat requests for records of National Insurance payments as falling within the scope of this target.In many cases, eg where contributions are paid by direct debit and the enquiry relates only to contributions paid by that method, we can readily provide the information from the computer sub-system which processes those payments. Similarly where the question is simply how much was paid in specific years we can quickly obtain a copy of an individual's National Insurance account.Where however customers require a comprehensive statement of their National Insurance position, usually because they are concerned about entitlement to retirement pension, a computer produced statement, detailing yearly contributions paid, is normally issued. The statement also advises customers of any years in which insufficient contributions have been paid towards retirement pension, how much would need to be paid to make good any shortfall, and how much contributions can be paid. In line with the customer enquiry target set for the Agency we respond to those requests within 10 working days and advise the customer that normally it takes about six weeks to provide the required statements. On an exception basis, where an urgent response is required, it is possible to obtain the information, from the computer and then process the application clerically. But to do this for all cases would be a costly way of dealing with the large numbers of requests we receive.I hope you find this reply helpful. If I can be of any further assistance, please let me know.