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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 17 March, 1998, 18:04 GMT
National Insurance cut
The Chancellor has said he will cut National Insurance Contributions (NICs) for everyone in the country.

He plans to abolish what he calls the "perverse entry fee" every employee pays to be part of the National Insurance system.

Future reforms will ensure that no one pays NI on the first 81 of their weekly earnings, while all employees earning between 62 and 81 will have their rights to benefits protected.

From April 1999, 20m employees will pay 66-a-year less in NICs. At that time a single body to deal with Income Tax and National Insurance will be set up as the Contributions Agency transfers to the Inland Revenue.

"This is not just a tax cut for lower income Britain, it is a tax cut for middle income Britain - a tax cut for every one in work," said Mr Brown.

The tax and benefit taskforce's report recommends a "simpler, fairer and more employment-friendly National Insurance system".

This would take one million of the lowest paid employees out of employers' tax altogether, cutting the cost of hiring someone on half average earnings by more than 250 a year.

Tackling the skills gap

Mr Brown also announced a further development of the Government's "new deal" policy on helping people back into work.

He said partners of the unemployed aged under 25 and without children, who were not allowed to register as unemployed, would now be given exactly the same opportunities for training and work as others enjoyed.

The Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, and other ministers are also to announce a series of "pathfinder projects" to help the unemployed and improve their communities.

There will be extra help to promote "investment in skills and lifelong learning" with priority given to training in computers and new technology.

In addition, an extra 100m is to be allocated to tackling the skills gap in Britain.

The Chancellor said he wanted to introduce a tax reform to cut the costs of hiring at the first step on the wage ladder where most new jobs are created.

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The Chancellor announces NI cuts ('1 ''07).
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