2 The Conservative Manifesto for the General Election in May 2015 included a commitment not to increase the rates of NICs, income tax or Value Added Tax ("VAT"). The Prime Minister made a commitment to legislate within 100 days after the General Election to rule out an increase in these rates. A programme Bill is required to deliver on this commitment for NICs.
3 This commitment was mentioned in the Queen’s Speech on 27 May 2015: "Legislation will be introduced to ensure there are no rises in income tax rates, VAT or National Insurance for the next five years".
4 Since April 2009 the Upper Earnings Limit (the level of earnings up to which employees pay NICs at 12% and thereafter 2%) has been aligned with the point at which the higher rate of income tax is paid. This alignment has been made by convention. The Prime Minister also made a pledge not to increase the UEL above the higher rate threshold for tax for the duration of this Parliament and to legislate for that commitment.
5 For further information on the policy background to NICs, please see annex A.