National Insurance contributions
In September 2021 the government published its proposals for new investment in health and social care in England. The proposals were intended to lead to a permanent increase in spending not only in England but also by the devolved governments. To fund the investment the government introduced a UK-wide 1.25% Health and Social Care Levy based on the National Insurance contributions (NICs) system but ringfenced for health and social care.
The Health and Social Care Levy Act provided for a temporary 1.25% increase to both the main and additional rates of Class 1, Class 1A, Class 1B and Class 4 NICs for 2022/23. From April 2023 onwards, the NIC rates were intended to revert back to 2021/22 levels and be replaced by a new 1.25% Health and Social Care Levy.
However, the government has:
- reversed the temporary increase in NICs and
- cancelled the Health and Social Care Levy completely.
According to the government, not proceeding with the Levy will reduce tax for 920,000 businesses by nearly £10,000 on average next year.
For SMEs, the government predicts that the savings will be around £4,200 on average for small businesses and £21,700 for medium sized firms from 2023/24.
In addition, it will help almost 28 million people across the UK save £330 on average in 2023/24, with an additional saving of around £135 on average this year.
More detail for employees and employers
The changes took effect for payments of earnings made on or after 6 November 2022, so:
- primary Class 1 NICs (employees) generally reduced from 13.25% to 12% and 3.25% to 2% and
- secondary Class 1 NICs (employers) reduced from 15.05% to 13.8%.
The effect on Class 1A (payable by employers on taxable benefits in kind) and Class 1B (payable by employers on PAYE Settlement Agreements) NICs will effectively be averaged over the 2022/23 tax year, so that the rate will generally be 14.53%.
The government hopes that most employees will receive the NICs reduction directly via the payroll in their November pay but acknowledges that some will have to wait until December or January, depending on the complexity of their employer's payroll software.
More detail for the self-employed
Following the principle detailed above, the changes to Class 4 NICs will again be averaged across 2022/23, so that the rates will be 9.73% and 2.73%.
A similar principle to that outlined above for income tax thresholds will be followed in respect of the NICs upper earnings limit and upper profits limit. From July 2022, the NICs primary threshold and lower profits limit were increased to align with the personal allowance and will be maintained at this level from April 2023 until April 2028. The Class 2 lower profits threshold will also be fixed from April 2023 until April 2028 to align with the lower profits limit. They will again be £12,570 and £50,270 as appropriate.
In addition, the government will fix the lower earnings limit and the small profits threshold at 2022/23 levels in 2023/24, namely £6,396 and £6,725 per annum respectively.
The government will uprate the Class 2 and Class 3 NICs rates for 2023/24 to £3.45 per week and £17.45 respectively.
Finally, the government will fix the level at which employers start to pay Class 1 NICs for their employees at £9,100 from April 2023 until April 2028.
The government states: 'It is fair that businesses play their part in reducing the UK's debt. The Employment Allowance means that 40% of businesses do not pay NICs and will be unaffected by this change, and the largest employers contribute the most.'