Farmers’ leaders slam plans to raise National Insurance for self-employed

Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond making his budget statement to MPs in the House of Common

Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond making his budget statement to MPs in the House of Commons. - Credit: PA

Plans to raise National Insurance Contributions (NIC) for the self-employed has come under fire from farmers’ leaders.

NFU president Meurig Raymond.

NFU president Meurig Raymond. - Credit: Simon Hadley

In his budget speech on Wednesday, chancellor of the exchequer Philip Hammond announced controversial plans to put up Class 4 national insurance contributions for the self-employed by 2%.

Embattled prime minister Theresa May promised on Thursday to listen to concerns raised by Conservative MPs and said there would be no vote until the autumn on the £2bn hike.

National Farmers’ Union (NFU) president Meurig Raymond warned the rise would have the rise in contributions by 1% next year and a further 1% the year after would have a detrimental impact for farmers.

“The NFU is striving to make Government aware of the implications this will have on the sector,” he said.

He added: “Many farmers will feel that this Budget was a missed opportunity, particularly that the chancellor did not see fit to extend capital allowances as part of the Government’s productivity plans.

“Farming needs to invest to increase productivity so it can compete post-Brexit.

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“Farming produces the raw ingredients for the UK’s largest manufacturing sector – food and drink – which employs nearly 4 million people and contributes £108bn to the economy.

“For every £1 invested in farming, it contributes £7.40 back to the country’s economy.

“It’s time for the chancellor and government to fully recognise British farming’s value for money.”

Few measures in the budget would help create an environment that supports profitable, progressive and competitive farm businesses, he said.

“The chancellor’s announcement on capping business rates increases will be welcome news to members with small diversified farming businesses,” he said.

“We are still very concerned about government proposals on Making Tax Digital.

“While we welcome the announcement that it will be delayed until April 2019 for businesses under the VAT threshold, many of our members will still be impacted with a costly and burdensome process of accounting from April next year.”