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Farmers facing £290 million tax bill from Conservative National Insurance hike

June 21, 2022 1:24 PM

On a visit to a farm in Devon, former Deputy Head of the NFU Stuart Roberts is joining Liberal Democrat Tiverton and Honiton by-election candidate Richard Foord to discuss the hit to farmers from the Government's National Insurance tax hike.

The agricultural industry is facing a tax hike of almost £290 million over the next five years because of the Conservative government's National Insurance rise, research by the Liberal Democrats has revealed.

This amounts to an average tax hike of £1,215 per farming business over the same period, and £480 per employee. The figures reveal the latest blow to the farming sector from the Conservatives breaking their manifesto promise not to raise National Insurance.

The research shows that the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector will pay £51 million more in National Insurance in 2022-23, rising to £65 million in 2026-27.

Meanwhile, the government is pursuing damaging trade deals that fail to protect British food standards, risking undermining British farmers. Farmers support payments are also being slashed, with farmers seeing at least a 5% cut in their payments this year, with some losing a quarter.

The party said it showed the Conservatives were "throwing farmers under a bus," with a combination of tax hikes, cuts to support and unfair trade deals that are undercutting high-quality British produce.

The Liberal Democrats have set out a three point plan to protect farmers from rising costs and ensure their businesses remain viable:

  • Cancelling the National Insurance rise and cutting VAT to 17.5%.

  • Ensure that imported food under current and future trade deals meets British standards of environmental protection and animal welfare.

  • Ending the phase-out of existing farming support schemes until the new Environmental Land Management scheme is fully rolled out.

Stuart Roberts recently joined the Liberal Democrats following his role at the NFU, and is helping to shape the party's food and agricultural policies. He has become Chair of the party's Food and Farming Working Group.

Liberal Democrat member and former Deputy Head of the NFU Stuart Roberts said:

"At a time when food security has become a matter of national urgency, these tax hikes are deeply troubling, especially combined with so many other damaging Conservative policies.

"As a former member of the Conservative party, it is hugely disappointing to see a Conservative Government treat farmers like this. That is why I joined the Liberal Democrats to champion our farmers and campaign for a fair deal for our agricultural industry. It is fantastic to see Richard playing a full role already in championing our farmers and campaigning for a fair deal for our agricultural industry.

"Agricultural input costs have spiralled in recent months and farmers are already facing huge financial pressures and now the Conservatives are clobbering them with a massive tax hike. It is yet another example of farmers being thrown under the bus by Boris Johnson's government.

"The by-election in Tiverton and Honiton is a chance to send a message that rural communities want change and that the government can't afford to take them for granted any longer."

Liberal Democrat Tiverton and Honiton by-election candidate Richard Foord said:

"Farmers are at the heart of our community, from putting food on the table to fueling our local economy through their entrepreneurial spirit. There is so much pride in Devon about our high quality food and picturesque landscapes, so it is disappointing to see the Conservatives letting farmers down.

"I want to be a strong voice in Westminster standing up for our rural community and our agricultural businesses. It is time Devon farmers received a fair deal."

Notes:

Full research is available below.

  • According to the latest forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility, the National Insurance rise will lead to a net increase of £10.9 billion in tax receipts for the Government in 2022-23, and ramping up to £13.8 billion in 2026-27. This is after you taken into account the increase in NICS thresholds (March 2022 EFO, Table A.5, p.205)
  • According to the House of Commons Library, approximately 60% of this increase will derive from employers' NICs; 38% from employee NICs; and 2% from self-employed NICs. The Library expects this to change slightly to a ratio of 59/39/2% in the last two years of the forecast period due to the freeze of the NI thresholds after 2022-23. (House of Commons Library analysis based on: Government Actuary's Department (2022), 'Report to Parliament on the 2022 re-rating and up-rating orders', Appendix G; OBR. Economic and fiscal outlook - March 2022, supplementary table 3.11; OBR. Economic and fiscal outlook - March 2022, Table 3.4)
  • This suggests that this year, all UK employers will pay an additional £6.6 billion in NICs; employees an additional £4.2 billion; and the self-employed an additional £219 million.
  • According to the latest aggregate pay figures from the ONS, in the last 12 months of available data (March 2021 - February 2022), aggregate pay in the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector made up 0.47% of total UK aggregate pay. Given that National Insurance Contributions are directly linked with pay, one can estimate that 0.47% of total UK receipts will derive from employers and workers in the agriculture sector. We can therefore estimate that in 2022-23, employers in the agricultural, forestry and fishing sector will pay approximately £171.4 million in NICs; employees will pay approximately £110.6 million in NICs; self-employed workers £5.8 million, meaning a total tax hit of £287.7 million.