• Chris Priebe

What you need to know about the National Insurance tax hike in 2022

Updated: May 13


When do NI contributions increase and by how much?

Despite substantial opposition to the move, as well as a promise to the contrary in their 2019 manifesto, earlier this month the conservative government forged ahead with the national insurance tax hike. From the 6th April, National Insurance contributions (NICs) increased by 1.25 percentage points, meaning an extra 1.25p for every pound earned above the income threshold.


The increase in national insurance contributions will last for this tax year (22/23), and then will continue as a ‘Health and Social Care Levy’ from April next year, with NICs returning to their previous rates. To avoid any unpleasant surprises, it’s worth informing yourself about what the NI hike involves and how it might impact take home pay and your business overall. In this article, you’ll find out why and when NI is increasing, and how much it will cost you.


Who pays National Insurance contributions and why?


Employees and self-employed people over the age of 16 pay national insurance contributions on income above a certain threshold. If you’re an employee, your employer will deduct your NI contributions from your wage before paying you. This will be reflected on your payslip. Employers also pay an additional employer National Insurance contribution on employee earnings to HMRC.


Individuals can also elect to pay national insurance to fill in or avoid gaps in their record, these are called ‘voluntary contributions’. National Insurance is U.K. wide, unlike income tax which varies in each nation of the United Kingdom.


The reason you pay NI contributions is to qualify for a State Pension as well as certain benefits such as statutory sick pay, maternity allowance and bereavement support payments.


What are national insurance classes?


National insurance classes are different types of national insurance contributions. The ‘class’ you pay is determined based on your current employment status and the amount you earn:

  • Class 1 applies to employees that earn more than £190 a week.

  • Class 1A or 1B applies to employers that pay these directly on employee benefits and expenses.

  • Class 2 applies to self-employed people.

  • Class 3 are voluntary contributions.

  • Class 4 is for self-employed people that earn more than £9,881 or more a year.


When will national insurance increase?


From April 6 this year until April 5, 2023, NI contributions will rise by 1.25%. This translates for most employees to a change from the previous rate of 12% to 13.25% on the majority of their earnings, the amount between the primary threshold (PT) and upper earnings limit (UEL), and from 2% to 3.25% for income above the upper earnings limit. But not all employees are affected equally, depending on their National Insurance class.


The national insurance contribution income threshold rose from £9,568 per annum to £9,880 in April, and will increase again to £12,570 in July. The upper earnings limit will stay at £50,270.


What do I need to know about the National Insurance increase from April 2022?


The national insurance hike is the first of a two-stage plan. For this tax year 22/23, employees and employers will see an increase in their contributions by 1.25% or an additional 1.25p for every pound earned. This increase applies to Class 1, 1A, 1B and Class 4 contributions. Here’s how this year’s national insurance rates compares to previously:

Tax Year 2021/22

Tax Year 2022/23

April to July

Tax Year 2022/23

August to March

Income threshold (£)

Tax-free

9,564

9,564

12,570

Base rate

​9,564-50,268

​9,880-50,268

​12,570-50,268

Upper rate

> 50,268

> 50,268

> 50,268

NI contribution rates

Tax-free

0%

0%

0%

Base rate

12%

13.25%

13.25%

Upper rate

2%

3.25%

3.25%

Source: https://ifs.org.uk/publications/15929


From next April, a separate tax - the so-called ‘Health & Social Care levy’ - will be introduced in place of the NI hike and National Insurance contributions will return to their previous rate. The Health and Social Care levy will appear as a separate tax item on payslips. And significantly, this levy will be payable by a wider group of people than National Insurance including state pensioners who are still in work.


It’s also important to note that the threshold at which national insurance contributions become mandatory will rise from July to match the income tax threshold (otherwise known as ‘personal allowance’). This means you can earn up to £12,570 before you have to start paying NI. This measure is intended to ‘soften the blow’ of the NI increases, especially amongst rising living costs.


Why is national insurance increasing?


The government has attributed the decision to raise national insurance contributions to rising pressure on the NHS as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as a need to support the social care system. It is projected that this increase will raise £10.9 billion in revenue.


What will the changes in NI cost me?


The increases in national insurance will mean many people see a decrease in their take home pay. It’s important, however, to understand that although mandatory contributions are rising, so too are the national insurance contribution income thresholds in July.


The three month lag between the NI hike and the threshold increase mean employees will see their take-home salary change twice in the next few months. However, on balance, the result is that anybody that earns below £34,000 this year will actually pay less national insurance than last year. According to the Government’s Spring Statement, this will help 30 million people in the U.K. with the cost of living. Anybody who earns above that threshold, however, will see an increase in their contributions.


This is how much employee NI contributions will increase or decrease per annum for the following annual incomes:


Impact on take home salary by annual income


How are employers affected by the national insurance rise?


Employer National Insurance increases will have a significant influence on outgoing expenses and your payroll. According to the Guardian, Britain’s employers will have to shoulder a £9bn tax rise. With a whole host of adversity facing businesses this year, you shouldn’t have to worry about manually overhauling your payment system. Modern payroll software should implement and reflect all relevant changes and increases automatically.


These are the employer National Insurance contribution rates and income thresholds for the tax year 2022/23 compared to the past year.

Tax Year 2021/22

Tax Year 2022/23

Annual income thresholds (£)

Tax-free

​8,844

9,096

Subject to NI

> 8,844

> 9,096

NI contribution rates

Tax-free

0%

0%

NI rate (Class 1)

13.8%

15.05%

Employers with 50 employees on an average salary of £50,000 will see an increase of their employer NI bill of £24,000 per year. The following table shows the increase in NI for employers depending on their staff size and salaries:

​Avg salary →

Employees

£30,000

£40,000

£50,000

£60,000

£80,000

£100,000

10

£2,280

£3,600

£4,800

£6,000

£8,520

£11,040

50

£11,400

£18,000

£24,000

£30,000

£42,600

£55,200

​200

£45,600

£72,000

£96,000

£120,000

£170,400

£220,800

500

£114,000

£180,000

£240,000

£300,000

£426,000

£552,000

1000

£228,000

£360,000

£480,000

£600,000

£852,000

£1,104,000

Though some employees may have taken the time to inform themselves of these changes, it’s good practice to tell employees about the national insurance increases and how they will impact their take-home pay from this month, so there are no unpleasant surprises and to avoid a wave of questions from surprised employees.


What can employers do to minimize overhead and distress to employees?


Modern employee platforms that include payroll can take of not only implementing the increase in NI rates and thresholds but also actively inform employees about upcoming changes and give employees insight into their payroll deductions directly in their employee portal, where they can also access payslips to inform themselves why their net salary changed, so they do not have to send a bunch of emails to admins.


With Zelt, employers can run payroll effortlessly, as it’s HMRC-approved and highly automated. Not only are the upcoming NI increases automatically implemented in Zelt’s payroll module but employees have real-time access to their payroll via their Zelt portal and are kept up to date with changes relevant to them.