2.This instrument proposes to increase the Married Women’s Reduced Rate (MWRR) of primary Class 1 National Insurance Contributions (NICs) by 1.25 percentage points for the 2022–23 tax year. HM Revenue and Customs says that this in line with pre-announced policy and ensures that the MWRR is consistent with the temporary 1.25 percentage points increase to NICs rates for the 2022–23 tax year made by the Health and Social Care Levy Act 2021, prior to the introduction of the Health and Social Care Levy as a separate tax from April 2023. The increases are to provide an additional £12 billion per year in funding to help the NHS and social care deal with a number of challenges, including the pressures arising from the coronavirus pandemic.
3.This instrument resets Ofsted’s inspection cycle for residential family centres, voluntary adoption agencies, adoption support agencies and fostering agencies in England from 1 April 2022. The Department for Education (DfE) says that these providers are usually inspected at least once every three years, but that routine inspections were paused in 2020–21 due to the pandemic, creating a backlog of providers which are overdue an inspection. While Ofsted restarted inspections in April 2021, DfE says that resetting the three-year inspection cycle will avoid Ofsted having to complete an unattainable number of inspections within a shortened time period and give Ofsted greater flexibility to focus resources on those providers that require more support.
4.The instrument also increases by up to 10% the Ofsted fees for providers in England which do not currently pay the full cost of inspection and regulation, and introduces registration, variation and annual fees for multi-building children’s homes. These are homes where care and accommodation are provided in more than one building. DfE says that registration, variation and annual fees have usually increased by up to 10% annually since 2010 in order to move the sector closer to full cost recovery, but that in 2020–21 and 2021–22 fees were frozen at 2019–20 levels due to the pandemic. According to DfE, this instrument reinstates the annual fee increase to move towards full cost recovery, while maintaining stability in the market and avoiding unsustainable pressure on individual providers. Fees for providers which are already at full cost recovery level will be capped at the full cost rate.