Employment

National Insurance contributions

The Chancellor announced major changes to the National Insurance contributions (NICs) system.

Employees and NICs

The government will cut the main rate of Class 1 employee NICs from 12% to 10% from 6 January 2024 so that employees can benefit as soon as possible.

Comment

According to the government, this will provide a tax cut for 27 million working people with the average worker on £35,400 receiving a cut in 2024/25 of over £450.

The self-employed and NICs

The self-employed generally have to pay two forms of NICs: Class 2 and Class 4.

Firstly, the government will abolish Class 2 self-employed NICs from 6 April 2024. This means that, from 6 April 2024:

  • Self-employed people with profits above £12,570 will no longer be required to pay Class 2 NICs but will continue to receive access to contributory benefits, including the State Pension.
  • Those with profits between £6,725 and £12,570 will continue to get access to contributory benefits, including the State Pension, through a National Insurance credit without paying NICs.
  • Those with profits under £6,725 and others who pay Class 2 NICs voluntarily to get access to contributory benefits including the State Pension, will continue to be able to do so.

The government will set out the next steps on Class 2 reform next year.

Comment

This will mean that a self-employed person who currently pays Class 2 NICs will save at least £192 per year.

Secondly, the government will cut the main rate of Class 4 self-employed NICs from 9% to 8% from 6 April 2024.

Comment

This will benefit around two million individuals, recognising the contribution of the self-employed to the economy and ensuring that work pays for all.

Extension of NICs relief for hiring veterans

The government is extending the employer NICs relief for businesses hiring qualifying veterans for a further year from April 2024 until April 2025. This means that employers will continue to pay no employer NICs up to annual earnings of £50,270 for the first year of a qualifying veteran's employment in a civilian role.

National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage

The government has accepted in full the recommendations of the Low Pay Commission and announced increased rates of the National Living Wage (NLW) and National Minimum Wage (NMW) which will come into force from April 2024. In addition, from April 2024 the NLW will be extended to 21 and 22 year olds. The rates which will apply from 1 April 2024 are as follows:

Age NLW 18-20 16-17 Apprentice
From 1 April 2024 £11.44 £8.60 £6.40 £6.40

The apprenticeship rate applies to apprentices under 19 or 19 and over in the first year of apprenticeship. The NLW applies to those aged 21 and over.

Comment

The Department for Business and Trade estimates 2.7 million workers will directly benefit from the 2024 National Living Wage increase.

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