Belfast Telegraph

Ditched plans for NI hike for self-employed will not be revisited, minister says

Ditched plans to hike National Insurance tax for self-employed workers will not be revisited by the Government, Theresa May's most senior minister has said.

Damian Green said MPs had made clear their opposition to the proposals from the spring Budget, after which Chancellor Philip Hammond was forced into a humiliating U-turn under pressure from Tory backbenchers and business groups.

Mr Hammond has said he will fully fund the cost of reversing the rise - which would have raised £2 billion over four years - in the autumn Budget.

It comes as the Government prepares to publish an eagerly awaited review by former RSA chief executive Matthew Taylor of the so-called "gig economy", in which many workers are treated as self-employed, and how it impacts on employment rights.

Mr Green suggested the Government would bring forward policies in response to the report, due tomorrow, but stressed that previous plans to increase Class 4 National Insurance Contributions (NICs) of self-employed workers would not be among them.

The First Secretary of State told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Actually that's not in Matthew Taylor's report, he deliberately doesn't make tax recommendations.

"And we won't be revisiting that... the House of Commons has already spoken on that so we won't be revisiting that.

"But absolutely in terms of the general thrust of Matthew Taylor's report, which is that we have done very well because of our flexible labour market to reduce unemployment to historically low levels, 40-year low on unemployment, he wants to combine that with a better quality of work, particularly for those working in the gig economy.

"And that is a sensible thing to say and we will be taking that up and working on the details of how best to put that into practice."

Liberal Democrat chief whip Alistair Carmichael said: "I think it's best the Government does not return to the scene of the crime. What still shocks me is that the Conservatives were so hubristic as to think they could rob self-employed workers like this and get away with it.

" Over the last few weeks the only announcements we have had are U-turns on disastrous Tory proposals, from scrapping free school meals to the dementia tax. The Tories have scrubbed the barnacles off the boat so hard there's no paint left on the hull any more."