Hammond defends Budget tax rise

Chancellor Philip Hammond has said that the government will increase national insurance contributions (NICs) for the self-employed, despite opposition within the Commons.

Hammond made the announcement during his Spring Budget, appearing to break a pledge made in the Conservative’s 2015 election manifesto which stated that the party would not increase taxes.

Hed said he would raise the rate on class 4 NICs paid by the self-employed from nine per cent to 10 per cent next year, with a further increase to 11 per cent in 2019, providing a £1.7 billion stimulus to the economy.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said there was a ‘general sense of unfairness’, and warned that Labour could join forces with rebel Conservatives who say the increase does little to encourage enterprise and risk-taking, with the Liberal Democrats and UKIP also criticising the move.

The Federation of Small Businesses echoed this by saying that the decision ‘undermined’ the government's ambition for the UK to become the best place to start and grow a business.

However, Hammond, speaking on BBC Breakfast, has insisted that ministers have honoured a ‘broad commitment’ not to raise taxes and rejected the idea that he had broken his party’s manifesto promise.

He did go further to say that circumstances have changed since 2015, particularly with the government overseeing the process of leaving the EU, and said that National Insurance is being increased for self-employed workers because of these ‘new challenges’.

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