'It's going ahead' but Liz Truss refuses to say if she'd back delaying NI hike

26 January 2022, 08:54 | Updated: 26 January 2022, 09:48

Liz Truss refused to say if she would back a reversal in the decision to hike National Insurance contributions
Liz Truss refused to say if she would back a reversal in the decision to hike National Insurance contributions. Picture: Alamy/LBC

By Will Taylor

The National Insurance hike will go ahead, the Foreign Secretary has insisted – despite reports the Cabinet would be prepared to delay it because families already face soaring energy bills.

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But speaking in a terse encounter with LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast, Liz Truss refused to be drawn on whether she would back a postponement.

Instead, she pointed out that the decision to increase National Insurance contributions by 1.25% - a move designed to help pay for social care for the elderly - had already been made.

Asked if the tax hike would get killed off ahead of its planned introduction in April, with families staring down the barrel of a cost of living crisis, Ms Truss said: "We know that it’s difficult times and that cost of living is an issue for people. But of course I'm sure the Chancellor is looking at that and seeing what can be done."

Pressed on whether she would back delaying the National Insurance increase, she said: "Nick, the decision has been made on National Insurance, that was a collective decision, and it's going ahead."

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Asked again, she told Nick: "I'm not going to comment on internal discussions, as I've said the cost of living rise is a concern for the Government, I know the Chancellor is looking at what can be done."

Nick pushed her a third time, to which she replied: "I'm not going to debate internal Government policy on LBC, much as you want me to, Nick."

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The tax hike will see workers earning £24,100 pay £180 a year while an employee on £67,100 will pay £715.

From 2023, working age adults over the state pension age will also contribute 1.25%.

Boris Johnson defended the rise on Monday, telling reporters: "The NHS has done an amazing job but it has been under terrible strain.

"Listen to what I'm saying: We've got to put that money in. We've got to make that investment in our NHS.

"What I'm telling people is, if you want to fund our fantastic NHS, we have to pay for it - and this Government is determined to do so."

However, a former minister who was in the Cabinet when the National Insurance change was agreed has come out to demand it the Government puts off the plans.

Ex-housing minister Robert Jenrick said in the Sunday Telegraph that the fastest way to "alleviate pressures on household budgets would be to postpone the hike".