Mr. Alan W. Williams
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what has been the increase in employees' national insurance contributions since 1979.
§ Mr. Arbuthnot
In 1979, not contracted-out employees paid national insurance contributions at a flat rate of 6.5 per cent. of earnings. Currently, all employees pay an initial contribution of 2 per cent. on earnings up to the lower earnings limit of £57 a week and then at 10 per cent. on the balance of earnings up to the upper earnings limit of £430 a week. As a result, the percentage of earnings paid in contributions rises progressively as earnings increase; from 2 per cent. for those earning at the lower earnings limit to just under 9 per cent. for those earning at the upper earnings. limit. The present structure benefits the lower paid more. Employees earning up to about £130 a week pay less contributions now than they would have done if the flat 6.5 per cent. contribution rate and structure in force in 1979 still applied.