The Chancellor has changed his mind – again – on National Insurance Contributions (NICs) for the self-employed. The Treasury has revealed that Class 2 NICs will remain for at least the rest of this Parliament.
The Treasury’s justification was that, without Class 2 NICs, “A significant number of self-employed individuals on the lowest profits would have seen the voluntary payment they make to maintain access to the state pension rise substantially.”
This means that over three million people will continue to pay the tax, providing more revenue for the Chancellor at a time that he certainly needs it. However, as many as 300,000 self-employed people earning less than the Small Profits Threshold (£6,032 a year) could have seen their NIC payments rise from £2.95 a week to £14.65 a week.
Mr Hammond originally proposed a reform of National Insurance Contributions (NICs) for the self-employed in his March 2017 Budget. The 2017 proposal was to increase the main rate of Class 4, from 9% to 10% in 2018/19 and again to 11% in 2019/20, bringing it closer to the employee rate of 12%.
The idea lasted less than a week before it was buried under a welter of backbench criticism and The Sunnewspaper’s campaign. Some months later, the Treasury quietly announced that the end of Class 2 NICs would be deferred a year. Now they could survive until 2022, based on the current deadline for the next General Election.
The decision, announced well ahead of the Budget in October, is a reminder of the financial and political constraints faced by the Chancellor.