The National Insurance number (NINO) is perhaps the key element of the whole system. If the state takes money from the citizen with the promise that he will earn something in return at some stage over the next 80 years or so, it needs to be able to identify uniquely each person who earns an entitlement and record the contributions by which that entitlement arises, so that benefit rights may be granted to the correct person in the correct amount. The NINO is as important to HMRC for collecting and recording contributions as it is to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for paying benefits.

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