The IMA has received several complaints regarding EU citizens experiencing delays in obtaining a Statement of insurance periods to be taken into account when calculating unemployment benefit from HMRC when this statement has been requested by the EU citizen’s host country. These documents are used to verify periods of insurance and employment in an EU country and the UK. This information is considered in a EU citizen’s host country for the award of benefits.
There was potential that this issue could still affect many qualifying citizens who need to prove their national insurance contributions in order to claim benefits in their host country
Title III of Part Two of the Withdrawal Agreement and Title III of Part Two of the EEA EFTA Separation Agreement confer various rights on EU and EEA EFTA citizens who are within scope of Title III, in respect of the coordination of social security.
Summary of Actions and Evidence
Having carefully considered the issues identified in the complaints in combination with wider intelligence gathered by the IMA, pre-inquiry investigations were conducted into HMRC to seek clarity around the concerns shared.
HMRC advised that they were aware of the issues raised by the IMA and had proactively started to invoke a recovery plan to reduce the number of applications that were waiting to be processed. HMRC increased their skilled resource and retrained operational staff and continue to monitor the volumes of outstanding applications.
HMRC’s actions are such that they have now returned to their standard working service level agreements for processing these requests.
In correspondence with the IMA, HMRC helpfully detailed the additional proactive steps taken to address the concerns raised in the original complaints. The effectiveness of such will now be monitored by the IMA.
Summary of Decision
HMRC has agreed to a proposal made by the IMA to monitor its actions with the objective of ensuring it continues to process these applications within the standard service level agreement.
HMRC has agreed to provide to the IMA a monthly data set which will include:
• Total number of new applications received.
• A nationality breakdown of those new applications received.
• Total number of applications processed.
• Total number and % of applications outside of the SLA.
• The number of staff (FTE) assigned to processing these applications.
• The volumes of applications received per country.
The IMA requests a monthly breakdown of applications received per county as referenced above to allow us to determine which countries are potentially impacted if processing times fall outside of the SLA.
Summary of Monitoring and Compliance
The IMA considers that the actions proposed will resolve the potential systemic concerns identified.
The IMA will monitor HMRC’s compliance with these actions with a proposed end date of 31st March 2022. The IMA will publish an update at the end of the monitoring phase.
Update Conclusion of Monitoring and Compliance
The IMA have concluded the monitoring and compliance period with HMRC.
It has become evident that the proactive steps taken by HMRC by invoking their recovery plan to return to standard service level agreements has been successful. Over the monitoring period, HMRC have and continue to process applications within service level agreements.
The IMA have been satisfied that the work undertaken by HMRC has upheld the EU, EEA and EFTA citizen’s rights in accessing a Statement of insurance periods to be taken into account when calculating unemployment benefit
The complaints submitted to us help build a picture of where there are common, wide-reaching, or systemic issues with how UK public bodies are implementing the Withdrawal Agreement(s) for EU and EEA EFTA citizens’ rights.