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Tuesday, 29 May, 2001, 11:04 GMT 12:04 UK
National Insurance - The hidden tax?

The Conservatives claim that Labour has a secret agenda to raise National Insurance contribution levels. William Hague says four million taxpayers will "effectively be paying 50% income tax".

Chancellor Gordon Brown dismisses the claims as "typical Tory smear", but says he will not discuss individual tax issues raised by the Tories. Before the last election in 1997 Labour ruled out increases in the upper limit to NI.

The Liberal Democrats say there would be no need for them to raise NI contributions as their spending would be paid for by increased income tax.

Have the Conservatives got it wrong? Would you be willing to pay higher National Insurance contributions?

Have Your Say When are people going to grasp that 29,000 is not an astronomic salary? Many people who get there have done so by working hard. All the calls for increasing tax on middle earners are fuelled by jealousy based on lack of motivation to improve yourself. I started work earning 29 per week as an apprentice. It would have been so easy to sit back and expect other to keep me but I worked hard and now I get taxed out of all proportion.
John, Bristol, UK

More than any previous government, this one has used National Insurance Contributions as a tax. They have used fiscal drag to increase the burden on employees and a 4% rate hike on employers. Labour are testing the idea of 40% + 10% direct deductions from about 32,000 per year. If you think that is right, vote Labour. If you think that is wrong vote Conservative.
Darren Webb, New Jersey USA


I am amazed at how many of the UK residents totally accept the ridiculous tax rates you pay

Jason F, Banff, Canada
I am amazed at how many of the UK residents totally accept the ridiculous tax rates you pay. Any competent government should be able to operate with much lower tax rates. The US (I don't like them any more than you do!) has a top tax bracket of about 35 per cent, which kicks in at around US $400,000, or about 250,000. Think about it. I don't like it, but it is one of the many reasons so many Canadians are moving to the US.

A flat tax is the best way to go- you earn more money- you get to keep it. Canada is bad enough for taxes and inept politicians, but as for England- wow.
Jason F, Banff, Canada

NI is not the same as income tax, and should not be considered as such. It is part of the "pay as you go" state pension provision in Britain, as well as providing the resources for other benefits. Consequently today's workforce pays for today's pensioners through a levy on their income. William Hague has proposed that under-thirties will be able to opt out of the state pension. What he has not told anyone is how this will effect the existing pensioners. Will these people have to pay twice, once for their own individual pension account and then again for today's pensioners?
Paul M, Basildon, UK


Just because you earn a huge salary doesn't mean you deserve it

Chris Ransom, Colchester, Essex
People who say:"I work hard for my 100,000 and deserve the right to spend it myself" seem to forget about the doctors, nurses, police, teachers, firemen, ambulance drivers, paramedics etc who work longer hours, harder and often in difficult, dangerous or uncomfortable conditions but don't earn anything like as much. Just because you earn a huge salary doesn't mean you deserve it. Look at what many Premier League footballers earn nowadays compared to the likes of Best, Moore, Banks etc. They don't deserve it, they just got lucky.
Chris Ransom, Colchester, Essex

A salary of 30,000 is not "beyond the wildest dreams" as alleged here. The national average is about 20,000, so you only need to be on 50% more and you're there. Just try buying a property anywhere in the Home Counties on a salary much less than 45,000 and you'll see that it isn't really very much by comparison. This is the other travesty - a salary of 45,000 earned in the North would need a salary of closer to 80,000 in the South East to buy a similar lifestyle. Yet the person in the South-East on 80k would pay 14k more in tax!
Tanya Smithson, England

Tanya, I really think you should come join us on planet earth. Try giving us some examples of jobs that provide 30,000 salaries. I'll give you some to start you off: architects, doctors, senior management - all people who are very well qualified. Most people in this country do not fall in that category. Bricklayers, nurses, taxi drivers, etc. Oh, and please don't tell me what it's like to get a mortgage in the South East. I have one, and I earn only a little more than the national average.
Steve, Luton, UK


The national lottery revenue should go to funding the NHS

Vic Ser, Warminster UK
I don't think tax cuts should be an issue. I would gladly pay more tax for improved NHS and other social benefits. In fact all of the national lottery revenue should go to funding the NHS like some other countries.
Vic Ser, Warminster UK

I would guess that over 90% of people in this country think that National Insurance pays directly for state pensions, even though it stopped doing that years ago. In that respect it's easy for politicians to continue the misconception and cause us to pay more NI without too much grumbling. We should scrap NI and add it to income tax. At least then the whole issue becomes clearer.
Paul R, UK


If you harmonise EU taxes, we'll end up paying more

Paul R, UK
Even after Labour's four years of tax rises we still have the lowest rates of tax in Europe. If you harmonise taxes across Europe, the law of averages says that we're bound to end up paying much more. How can that possibly be better for all us ordinary people?
Paul R, UK

I really don't understand Conservative politics. They always seem to be arguing for lower taxes. Why? Making a quick buck is the easy road to an economic disaster.
Salim Meghani, England

I would guess that over 90% of people in this country think that National Insurance pays directly for state pensions, even though it stopped doing that years ago. In that respect it's easy for politicians to continue the misconception and cause us to pay more NI without too much grumbling. We should scrap NI and add it to income tax. At least then the whole issue becomes clearer.
Paul R, UK

After returning to the country after six years of paying 45% tax and no NI, 15% VAT and a lot less in duties I was not surprised. I am a "lucky" person in that I earn more than 50k. But in total I already pay far more than the average person. Why should people who are prepared to work hard and do something with their lives be penalised? Labour encourages dependency on the state which requires higher taxation
Simon, Maidenhead


Cows moo, dogs bark and Labour tax

Phil Davies, Evesham, UK
It's a very simple matter as defined by Heseltine in the '92 election, cows moo, dogs bark, and Labour Tax. Its the natural order of things.
Phil Davies, Evesham UK

I was thrown out of work in 1991 due to Thatcherite policies. I was told by a Tory candidate at the 1992 election that NI was a tax and had nothing to do with benefit entitlement. Just how hypocritical can these Tories be? They started all these stealth taxes. Who put VAT up to 17.5%?
Fred Robinson, Lancaster, UK

I am amazed at all the comments suggesting 30000 isn't very much. For the majority of people it is a salary beyond their wildest dreams. It is typical that these same people all want us to vote Conservative. Conservative is the operative word...Conserve their own wealth at the expense of the many.
Steve, Luton, UK


The Tories used interest rates as a "tax" in order to take the heat out of an economy ruined by them in the first place

Andy Hill, Hertford UK
When taxation under the current Government is mentioned, people, especially those on the right of politics, forget to mention interest rates on mortgages. The previous Tory government used interest rates as a "tax" on people in order to take the heat out of an economy ruined by them in the first place. I am currently 700 (8400 pa) pounds a month better off under the current government than I was under the previous one, if mortgage payments are taken into account. Beat that Hague/Portillo?
Andy Hill, Hertford UK

So William Hague goes on about stealth taxes. I presume he means taxes such as the fuel tax escalator (brought in by the Tories & abolished by Labour), VAT on domestic fuel (brought in by the Tories & abolished by Labour), VAT on tampons (brought in by the Tories & abolished by Labour). I always thought that the principle of "stealth" taxes was one of the cornerstones of Thatcherism. Mr Hague should find some principles he truely believes in and stick to them, rather than jumping on every bandwagon going.
Keith, Cheltenham, UK


Of course the NI ceiling will be raised to pretend otherwise is to take us for fools

Ian Brealey, Northampton
Labour's manifesto was a long list of government spending without a total. According to the Economist magazine total spending in 1999/00 was 340bn and rises to 440bn in 2003/04 (whether according to Gordon Brown on Today there is a recession or not). Any school child can work out spending is increasing by more than a 'conservative' 5% and that means higher taxes - lots of them. Of course the NI ceiling will be raised to pretend otherwise is to take us for fools.
Ian Brealey, Northampton

What are the increases for? Not services, for sure. Why do Labour claim that they are reducing taxes and helping enterprise when they are really sneaking up every tax they can?
Paul Rowlands, Bracknell, Berks

I remember, many years ago, Margaret Thatcher held up a pound note and said "you can have this pound in your pocket to spend on what you want". Unfortunately many people didn't realise that was probably all they would get. I did get my income tax cut however, a breathtaking 2.00 a week. Barely able to contain my excitement, I then noticed that my N.I. contribution had gone up by 3 (I didn't remember them saying anything about that).
Mick B, Luton, UK

The great hidden tax that is "going to pay for my pension..." Please, spare me.
Matthew Baines, London, UK


At some point the government needs to realise that you need people to work in the country for taxes to be paid

Gary, UK
I already pay 53% tax under IR35, I only stayed in the country because I have 2 children who I feel deserve to see their grandparents. Keeping the family together is a nice concept. If NI ceiling is removed (making my tax on income 62%) I think a certain company in Texas, USA will have another IT employee working for them. At some point the government needs to realise that you need people to work in the country for taxes to be paid.
Gary, UK

It is just another example of labour taking more from our pockets and trying to hide it behind useless platitudes and insincere smiles.
Simon Down, Chalfont St Peter, England

I have been working for 16 years and over that period I have contributed in excess of 40,000 in National Insurance payments. I have always had private healthcare, a company pension scheme, PHI and life assurance cover. I have seen my GP maybe half a dozen times and have been to A&E once. I feel that I am being more than generous already, and I am sick and tired of endlessly donating my cash to people most of whom wouldn't help me if I fell over in the street.
Iain, UK


29,900 was a lot of money 20 years ago. It is not so much now

Paul, London, UK
People tend to forget that to buy an average priced house in this country, you must be on far more than the 29,900 which acts as a ceiling on NI Contributions. It was a lot of money 20 years ago. It is not so much now. This Government has increased taxes significantly. It would be far more honest to abolish NI and increase Income Tax to compensate. And as for Employers NI Contributions this is a tax on employment, hidden by virtue of the fact that someone else pays it for you, i.e. your employer!
Paul, London, UK

I do not resent paying taxes. What annoys me is that my taxes rarely benefit the people that need them. It seems to me that benefits are distributed with the accuracy of birdshot. Labour have been in power for four years and still there is no improvement in health, education, or public transport - I still see people sleeping rough in the street. They crow about unemployment down below a million, but welfare costs are up - figure that one out. If you increase my NIC I honestly believe that no one will benefit. My family will simply be poorer.
Steve Chiswell, London, England


There is a great deal of jealousy attached to people who earn higher incomes

Ian Marples, Hamstall Ridware, UK
As a lot of these comments demonstrate, there is a great deal of jealousy attached to people who earn higher incomes than others. 29,000 is not a great deal of money. A lot of people are becoming increasingly caught in an inverted poverty-trap earning around that figure. With the increase in stealth taxes, with particular reference to IR35, is it little wonder that skilled people are leaving the country.
Ian Marples, Hamstall Ridware, UK

I've contracted out of NI by paying all my salary as dividends so 'Gordon the Gopher' can't hurt me.
John, UK

Chancellor Brown's squirming and evasion on this question indicates that the Tories have squarely hit the target. National Insurance is an income tax. It is time to end this fraud that we are somehow contributing to a fund. Labour will win but on this issue alone they deserve to lose.
Chris Klein, Chandlers Ford, England


Bob the builder should look out - Can he tax it? Yes he can!

John Voisey, Newport, South Wales
You ask the question: "would you pay more". Surely the answer is simple enough. Return Tony Blair and the answer is YES !! Bob the builder should look out, the next verse of his song goes "can Brown tax it - yes he can"
John Voisey, Newport, South Wales

How sad society has become. Everybody worried about 'Their' world and nobody thinking at all about those less fortunate. I am happy to pay my tax and NI if it gives me roads to drive down and a back up of a hospital if I need it. I wonder how Harry Wentworth would pay for a professional army or would only those with a large private income be afforded protection?
Stuart , Bournemouth UK


Sorry to tell you Stuart, but paying more tax won't make your world better - it will make you poorer

Dean, London
I'm sorry to hear that Stuart from Bournemouth thinks I'm sad for worrying about 'my' world. In case you haven't noticed, our money doesn't go to improving the roads, or improving the NHS, or decreasing class sizes, or funding more police. It gets wasted on nonsense like new offices for politicians, sending teenage truants to Disneyland and the Millenium Dome. Sorry to be the one to tell you Stuart, but paying more tax won't make 'your world' better, the only thing you can be sure of, is that it will make YOU poorer.
Dean, London, UK

There should be only one fixed percentage rate of income tax (combined with NI) for everyone, no matter what you earn. There is a real attitude (I call it envy) problem in this country towards people who work hard and become successful
Jose Costa-Correa, Hampton, UK

The Tories have a nerve. They were the ones who introduced insurance premium tax, VAT on domestic fuel and the fuel duty escalator, to name but a few 'stealth' taxes. They must think we are stupid. Now they say Labour will have to increase taxes to meet their spending plans, not this year, but in 2004. Yet the Tories claim to be sticking to Labour's spending plans, while at the same time giving 8-26bn tax cuts. Whichever way you look at it, it doesn't add up. If Labour will have to increase NI contributions, then so will the Tories.
Trevor, Kidderminster, UK


Why complain at extra NI when you earn 30,000?

Helen, UK
Why complain at extra NI when you earn 30,000? I earn nowhere near that, but pay private medical insurance because of the under-funded NHS. I would love the opportunity to pay this amount into NI instead. If I can afford it on my salary while supporting a home and family, higher earners can afford it on theirs. It's a case of living within your means.
Helen, UK

"At the moment the percentage you pay drops the more you earn." Rubbish - on a percentage basis the more you earn the closer your total tax bill will be to 40%. That's a fact.

And as for privatising the fire brigade, police force etc, what a clever idea. I just hope your neighbours sign up to the fire brigade because if they don't and their house catches fire, things will get a little hot for you! And I do hope that the people who leave the country if NIC is increased do a little research before they decide which country to go to. Many European countries have social security rates far higher than ours.
Andrew Carter, Southampton, England

Poor Mr Mckenzie, who only earns a measley 30,000 a year. Perhaps the reason the government taxes those with more money, is because you can afford it. I'm not sure where you will go that taxes less, but I'm sure you will be able to find somewhere and will claim financial asylum. Happy travels, goodbye and don't come back. Whinger!
Peter Bridgehouse, Bristol, UK


I am left with 200 a month. Guess what? I am moving abroad

J McKenzie, London
The problems with raising taxes, be it NI, fuel, and income tax is that the people who are getting hit are those who are seen to be able to afford it i.e. earning over 30,000. They may be in the upper echelons of pay compared to rest of the country but they still have mortgages and families to support. They will be paying out the same as those who are earning 250,000 - and this is where the sting lies. What is the incentive to work at and succeed at a career when you are left with barely enough to have a haircut or buy any clothes? I am left with just over 200 cash a month. Guess what? I am moving abroad.
J McKenzie, London, England

At present the cap on NI payments is there to reflect the fact that there is a maximum to benefits. If the cap is abolished then NI payments, logically, simply become a tax. A bit more honesty from government would be welcome! Put it all down as income tax so we all know where we are!
Mike, Harlow, England

Given New Labour's track record on IR35, the stealth tax which has made 100,000 people pay more NI already, the question is moot. Vote Labour, and you will pay more. You may have little sympathy with IT consultants, but your turn will come under New Labour. Happy voting.
Alan Mellor, Stalybridge, UK


Before we know it, we'll all be paying our NICs in Euros

Steve Miller, London
There is nothing secret about Labours agenda to raise NICs. Before we know it, we'll all be paying our NICs in Euros.
Steve Miller, London


National Insurance. The very word alone virtually guarantees a Labour defeat on June 7th

Dan, UK
National Insurance. The very word will haunt New Labour for the next 20 years, because, it alone virtually guarantees their defeat on June 7th and will consign them to opposition benches for a very long time indeed. Good riddance to a bad lot. After four years of saying one thing and doing another, the British people are heartily sick of the vacuous promises and sinister spin.
Dan, UK

Dan,UK: What planet are you living on? "Virtually guarantees Labour's defeat on June 7th". You are out of your mind! I've heard of wishful thinking but this really takes the biscuit. No party ever addresses all 250+ tax allowances in the middle of an election campaign - can you imagine the cries of 'politics is boring' if they tried? Shifting tax burdens around is nothing new: the Tories cut tax after the 1992 election and then hiked up VAT to pay for it. The Tory's current scare stories of a 50% tax band are just another sign of how desperate they are to smear the government in a vain attempt to avoid crashing to another election defeat.
Matthew Salter, UK

I'm sorry Dan of the UK. The polling evidence would seem to suggest otherwise. I hope you've got the tranquillisers ready when the results come through on June 8. The Labour government isn't going anywhere apart from back to Downing Street for their victory party. They're here for the next 10 years. Get used to it!
John Pancracker, Darlington, UK

To Matthew Salter & John Pancracker: Keep up your Labour party subscriptions won't you chaps? Or do your Millbank employers pay them for you? I pay no attention to polls or statistics. I am a working class lad from London and I don't know a single person who is voting for Labour.
Dan, City, UK

Well Dan of City, UK, I would suggest to you that you have a very closed circle of friends if you don't know anyone who's voting Labour. I have actually been teaching and studying politics for 44 years now, and I can tell you that Labour will not only win this election, but will win it with a majority of at least 100. Boy are you going to be rather dismayed. Open your eyes! To answer the question, yes, I would pay more NI if it was going to a good cause.
Errol Cater-Hall, Giggleswick, Yorkshire, UK

To Dan of the City, and anyone else who thinks the Tories will win this election: can I suggest a solution to your money problems? Put every penny you own on at the bookies that the Tories will win on June 7th if you that sure of it. You will amass a fortune if you're right. That should withstand any change made to tax or NI!
Dave Hartley, Birmingham, UK

If they make a cock up of NI tax they can always put 2.5% on VAT!
Tom Rouse, Coventry

But NI isn't a tax. Mrs Thatcher said so when she increased it to directly compensate for a reduction in income tax, so it must be true!
Steve, UK


The Labour Party insults the intelligence of the electorate by saying they will not raise Income Tax rates

Kay Sharp, London, England
The Labour Party again insults the intelligence of the electorate by saying they will not raise Income Tax rates, and hope that this is interpreted as "no tax rises". What about the 45 tax increases since 1997, including National Insurance, IR35, fuel etc. etc. The extra money clearly hasn't been spent on better public services.
Kay Sharp, London, England

I will go out and do my bit to ensure a government is elected that I can commonly agree with on issues like NI Contributions. I DO NOT doorstep canvass. I AM NOT a politician or activist. I will vote Conservative to facilitate a change of MP here. Then, I will lobby that MP and Conservative government to adopt the policies I seek. They may not do everything I agree with, but I know the party I trust!
Mr Harry Wentworth, Torquay, Devonshire, England

So Harry Wentworth wants us to have to pay for everything "as and when we need it" because this is not Communist Russia! Harry, I sincerely hope you don't go canvassing for Christian Sweeting in Torquay. If I were him, I'd be putting up the money to send you to the Scilly Isles for the next fortnight!
Alf Carr, Walsall, England


All forms of taxation should be abolished

Harry Wentworth, Torquay, England
National Insurance and all forms of taxation should be abolished. We should all have to pay our own way in life. If I were Prime Minister I'd privatise the Health Service, Fire Service, Police, Ambulance Service, Courts, Prisons, street sweeping service and all current "public" services come to that. I would be quite happy to say that if you want the use and benefits of these facilities, then pay for them as and when you need them. This is not Communist Russia, this is Great Britain!
Mr Harry Wentworth, Torquay, Devonshire, England

No I would not be happy just to see the upper threshold on NI raised. To me that would confirm that the Government were simply introducing a 50 per cent tax band in an underhand fashion. However, I would accept it if there was an equivalent increase in the threshold at the bottom end.

This would mean more people on lower incomes would pay less or no NI and my overall tax burden would not increase. As some one in full time work, with no children and a decent income I honestly feel that I pay for far more than I receive already. I'd like to see some value for my money before I would be prepared to consider paying out even more.
James Crosby, Telford, England


From pay packet to purchase, I am being taxed four times on the same money

Dean, London, UK
I pay 40% tax on my earnings. Then I invest my earnings and pay 40% again on any capital gains I make. I then go into a petrol station to fill up my car with petrol (using my earnings to pay), and not only do I pay duty at close to 80% on the petrol, but I then pay VAT on top of the duty.

So in other words, from pay packet to purchase, I am being taxed four times on the same money.

Yet the government says this is still not enough!
Dean, London, UK

Under the new stealth tax, IR35, I already pay 52.2% tax (40% tax plus 12.2% employers NI) on my highest level of income. Even at lower levels I pay 42.2% (23% tax plus 10% employees NI plus 12.2% employers NI). If the ceiling on employees NI contributions were to be raised I would be paying 62.2% tax on my top rate.
Ray, Sandy, Beds


It is highly unlikely I will ever receive much, if indeed anything, from this so-called insurance policy

John B, UK
National Insurance is intended to be exactly that - an insurance policy against the unforeseen such as unemployment, illness, old age and the like. Unfortunately, as one who earns over the 29,900 upper limit it is highly unlikely I will ever receive much, if indeed anything, from this so-called insurance policy. It would be akin to paying insurance on my car only to find that when I crashed the company decided not to pay out after all. If Labour want to increase taxes let them do it directly and transparently so we can all see what is going on.
John B, UK

If elected Brown WILL raise NI - no doubt whatsoever. At that point I will leave England for good, taking my much needed skills with me (Labour encourages small business and IT - a lie).

Re-electing Blair and his cronies, if it happens, will eventually be seen to be one of the biggest mistakes ever made by the electorate. By then it will be too late, our best brains will be gone, our independence will be gone. We will be working to pay off Germany's pensions bill, while our own pensioners suffer.
Paul Long, Warwick, England.

So, Paul Long, you're amongst the best brains we have and you're going to Germany to pay less tax? The people who pay you to look after their computers should be VERY worried!
Steve, UK


National Insurance for people in their 20s and 30s is a punitive scandal

Ian, UK
National Insurance is one of the great rip-offs. I'm 31 and don't expect to get anything for my NI contributions in old age as the state pension will probably not even exist in 30 years time. Yet there are no incentives to redirect my contributions into a scheme that will guarantee me a pension. National Insurance for people in their 20s and 30s is a punitive scandal and it's about time we started lobbying for change. Would I pay more? You must be kidding...
Ian, UK

"National Insurance" has a nice ring to it, rather as if one is paying a monthly premium for a real insurance policy. In reality, that money is funnelled right into government coffers. As such, it is a tax in all but name - and raising these "contributions" should be no more acceptable than raising taxes.
Christian J. DeFeo, Antwerp, Belgium (ex-UK)


If the money is needed, then it's needed

Gary Dillon, Harlow, England
If I was told why then that would be fine. Quite honestly though I'm sick and tired of the Tories trying to buy my vote. If the money is needed, then it's needed.
Gary Dillon, Harlow, England

Unfortunately for Gordon Brown a 'stealth' tax can only remain such if the public fail to realise it is being applied to them. New Labour managed to keep most of their deceptions like Fuel Tax, IR35 and changes to Pensions, Dividends and Company Taxes - which increase taxes by around 4bn - pretty quiet for the first four years. However, now that the issue of the NI ceiling has been made so public, hopefully Gordon and Tony will realise that at least one of the back doors to higher taxation has been firmly closed.
Richard Brown, Bristol, UK

New Labour are all about saying one thing and doing the opposite wherever they think they can get away with it. Hopefully now that the issue of NI contributions has hit the headlines they will have to think twice before including it in their basket of 'stealth' taxes.
Susie Mahmood, Swindon, UK


You name it the government have taxed it, but do I get value for money? No!

Ian Shaw, London
No.No.No. I pay 40% income tax,plus 10.5% N.I., 17.5%VAT,tax on investments,fuel tax,road fund tax,tv licence tax and council tax. You name it the goverment have taxed it, but do I get value for money, No, No, No!
Ian Shaw, London England.

I would not expect any chancellor to give details about every tax plan. To manage the economy well you have to be fairly dynamic, which is impossible if you have constricted yourself with promises made under duress. Even if they do change NI after 3 years, do we really want to remain the poorman of Europe as regards public services? Ms Storer said she wanted better cancer care etc and that her partner had paid enough income tax. But that's the problem, our fuel taxes may be high but overall our tax is too low. If you pay peanuts...
James Wray, Glasgow Scotland

Given that raising the threshold will only affect people earning over 29,000 the Tories can't really claim that this would cause hardship. 29,000 is more than most people earn and it is only fair that the high earners pay their share. At the moment the percentage you pay drops the more you earn. That is regressive taxation. At least the Tories are showing there true colours - help the rich and forget the rest.
George Forsyth, London, UK

Those of us who earn less than 30.000 pay NI on all our earnings. How fair is it that those who earn that and more pay less?
Syd, Sheerness, England

In my opinion National Insurance is nothing more than a fraud against the majority of people who actually pay meaningful contributions. We should have a system where "insurance" contributions by individuals earn explicit and guaranteed benefits for themselves and their families. If governments need, for instance, to pay for benefits that are unrelated to any contributions, let them do this by transparent taxation, and not by increasing "insurance" contributions (which are nothing of the sort), nor by devaluing contributory benefits. We're already paying far too much for far too little.
John, UK

We should increase national insurance to help either the NHS or pensioners. Much of the welfare budget is spent on pensioners, who do not work and do not contribute to society. The ratio of younger working people to older pensioners is falling rapidly. They will have to raise the retirement age, and we could be facing a future inflation problem, as larger numbers of people consume fewer resources supplied by ever-fewer workers. If pensioners can work they must work. Even people on private pensions will be a problem, as, despite their paper money in the bank, they will still consume resources and services without contributing!
Dave Holmes, London, UK

The government already takes more than 40% of everything we earn. NI is just another tax and any increase should be resisted. I am always amused by those who claim to want to pay more tax. There is nothing preventing them paying more already if they really want to. I am sure Gordon Brown will receive any extra payments gladly. Unfortunately, what they usually mean is that everybody else should pay more tax.
Graham Rawlings, Selby UK

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What is National Insurance, and what is at the heart of the political row over the amount paid.Nat Insurance
Explaining the tax at the heart of election row
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