National Insurance Contributions (Reduction in Rates) Bill - Second Reading

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords am 4:29 pm ar 12 Rhagfyr 2023.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Baroness Vere of Norbiton Baroness Vere of Norbiton The Parliamentary Secretary, HM Treasury 4:29, 12 Rhagfyr 2023

The Minister is definitely not looking to expand the debate but is trying to make progress. I hear what the noble Lord says, and if he has read the Autumn Statement, which I am sure he has, he will have seen the announcements made in it about tax avoidance.

Moving on to comments made by noble Lords, I think it is probably not worth rehearsing and rehashing the elements around fiscal drag. Again, I want to put some numbers on record, because there is an opportunity to do so. Thanks to the cut in employee national insurance contributions announced at the Autumn Statement and to above-average increases to starting thresholds since 2010, an average worker in 2024-25 will pay more than £1,000 less in personal taxes than they would otherwise have done. That statement has attracted some interest, and I reassure noble Lords that the calculations underlying this statistic are based on public information, including a published estimate of average earnings. They are robust and could be replicated by an external analyst. This goes back to what I was trying to say about data. Lots of people will do calculations on different bases, but at the end of the day, from the Government’s perspective, we want taxes to come down—this is a start—but of course we will do it only in a responsible manner. However, personal taxes for somebody on an average salary of £35,400 have come down since 2010.

The noble Lord, Lord Sikka, asked about distribution analysis, and the national insurance cuts will of course benefit everybody who pays national insurance. That includes 2.4 million people in Scotland, 1.2 million in Wales, 800,000 in Northern Ireland, et cetera. The latest published HMRC data for 2021 shows that the largest proportion of income tax payers reside in the south-east, followed by London. It will be the case when one has a tax cut that those who pay the largest amount, and the numbers of people who pay tax if they are located in certain areas, are therefore going to see the largest reductions.

However, we have also looked at the impact on women—again, an issue raised by the noble Lord, Lord Sikka. NIC charges apply regardless of personal circumstances or protected characteristics. The equalities impact will reflect the composition of the NIC-paying population. Of course, that feeds into whether we would like women to be paid more. Of course we would. That is why rewarding work will see 28,000 people come into jobs—and I very much hope that they will be well- paid jobs and will be taken up by women.

The noble Lord, Lord Sikka, talked about better-off households. Distribution analysis published at the Autumn Statement shows that a typical household at any income level will see a net benefit in 2023-24 and 2024-25, following government decisions made from the Autumn Statement 2022 onwards. Low-income households will see the largest benefit as a percentage of income. Furthermore, looking across all tax, welfare and spending decisions since the 2019 spending round, the impact of government action continues to be progressive, with the poorest households receiving the largest benefit as a percentage of income in 2024-25. I know that the noble Lord feels that we do not focus on those on the lowest incomes, but he is not correct in that regard.