National Insurance number applications are still suspended due to the pandemic

Thousands of people with the right to work in the UK have been unable to get a National Insurance number because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The government stopped issuing National Insurance numbers, meaning people have struggled to start jobs, open bank accounts and enrol in college programs.

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BBC Radio 4’s Money Box show revealed that British passport holders arriving into the country for the first time have also been unable to apply.

‘Redeployment of staff’

The government said suspending parts of the National Insurance number application process was necessary during the pandemic period so it could have staff redeploy to process benefit claims.

Applicants who do not require a visa to work in the UK (such as a British passport holders or EU citizens) normally require a face to face meeting for the right to work and ID check. The government says these meetings have not been possible because of the pandemic.

A spokesperson for the Department of Work and Pensions said, “Individuals can start work without a National Insurance number if they have the right to work in the UK and we are working on a solution to reopen the service soon.”

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However, EU citizens rights group, the3million, told the BBC that not every employer knows people still have the right to work without an NI number.

Luke Pipe, head of policy at the3million said, “You can't control every single employer. Thousands of people who have arrived in the UK since March are having trouble getting jobs, opening bank accounts and paying tax.”