HC Deb 13 February 2004 vol 418 cc112-3W
Ms. Drown

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the annual cost to(a) employees and (b) others in (i) 10, (ii) 20 and (iii) 40 years of reducing the lower earnings limit for National Insurance (A) by £17 and (B) altogether. [155939]

Dawn Primarolo

Estimated increases in National Insurance contribution income of (A) reducing the primary threshold by 17 per week in 2003–04 or (B) reducing the primary threshold to zero, are shown in the following table.

(– billion)
(i)2013–14 (ii)2023–24 (iii)2043–44
(a) Effect on primary contributions of reducing the primary threshold
(A) by 17 per week 2.2 2.3 2.3
(B) to zero 12.0 12.3 12.2
(b) Effect on secondary contributions if the secondary threshold is also reduced
(A) by 17 per week 2.6 2.7 2.7
(B) to zero 14.2 14.4 14.3
Figures are for Great Britain, on an accruals basis and the effect on total contributions allocated to both the NIF and NHS in 2003–04 price terms.
Results based on the long-term estimates published in the Quinquennial Review of the National Insurance Fund as at April 2000 (Cm 6008) assuming 2 per cent. a year real earnings growth. No allowance has been made for the effects of the most recent (2002-based) population projections, or any other information which has become available since the results underlying the Quinquennial Review were prepared.

Norman Lamb

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the value was of underpayments not pursued by the National Insurance Contributions office for tax years(a) 1999–2000, (b) 2000–01, (c) 2001–02 and (d) 2002–03; how many underpayments of less than £150 were not pursued in each of those tax years; how much these totalled in each of those tax years; and if he will make a statement. [153288]

Dawn Primarolo

National insurance contributions identified as due, but not paid and subsequently written off, amounted to £189 million in 1999–2000; £180 million in 2000–01; £145 million in 2001–02; and £275 million in 2002–03. The amount in 2002–03 includes insolvent companies' debts accrued before July 2001 which were cleared from the accounts as part of a special exercise in that year.

National insurance contributions may be written off where pursuit is unlikely to be successful, for example, because a company is insolvent; or where it is regarded as neither practical nor cost effective to pursue the debt, for example, because the debtor has gone abroad. Underpayments of less than £150 are not identified separately and the information could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

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