Tories will not raise national insurance

The Conservative Party will today promise to spare businesses and people on low and middle-incomes from the rise in national insurance contributions (NICs) due next year.

In a landmark announcement that will shape the general election debate, the shadow Chancellor George Osborne will reveal that the 1 per cent rise for employers and employees planned by Labour for next April will go ahead only for high earners if the Tories win power. He will claim that this key tax pledge will leave seven out of 10 working people better off under Tory economic plans than under Labour's.

Mr Osborne and David Cameron have said that halting the NICs increase is their top priority but until now have stopped short of giving a firm promise. The Treasury estimates the proposed rise in NICs will raise about £7bn a year so the Tory pledge is likely to cost less than that.

The move, predicted in The Independent last Friday, will not be funded by other tax rises. Mr Cameron suggested yesterday that it would be met by "savings" his party had identified. He said that the Tories would cut public spending "further and faster" than Labour but insisted there was "a limit" to what could be achieved this year.

Mr Osborne and Mr Cameron, who have been under pressure to spell out more of their tax and spending plans amid a Tory slip in the opinion polls, finalised today's announcement after last week's Budget. Insisting that the new policy is "fully-funded", they will argue that it puts the Tories "on the side of working people and of securing economic recovery". The planned NICs rise would hit people earning £20,000 and above. The Tories hope that halting it for low and middle-income groups will help them answer Labour's charge that they are a "party of the rich".

Mr Osborne will claim that preventing the rise for employers will protect tens of thousands of jobs that would otherwise have been lost. Tory strategists intend to make today's announcement a centrepiece of the campaign. They claim it will "expose the madness of Labour's mistake to jeopardise the recovery by imposing a tax increase on jobs and workers" and give the Tories a strong card to play on safeguarding the recovery and helping families who are struggling to make ends meet.

Mr Osborne will go head-to-head tonight with the Chancellor Alistair Darling and Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman Vince Cable in a Channel 4 debate. Labour will subject the Tory pledge on NICs to intense scrutiny and is likely to claim that the Opposition's plans do not add up. Yesterday Liam Byrne, the Treasury Chief Secretary, said a raft of recent Tory promises meant they had entirely lost sight of cutting the public deficit.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
Powdered colors are displayed for sale at a market ahead of the Holi festival in Bhopal, India
techHere's what you need to know about the riotous occasion
Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
News
Details of the self-cleaning coating were published last night in the journal Science
science
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
News
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Assistant / Credit Controller

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are an award-winning digit...

Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform Engineer - VMware / SAN / Tier3 DC

£45000 - £55000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform En...

Recruitment Genius: Purchasing Assistant

£10000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger Assistant

£17000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable