In 2016 the government consulted on a proposed abolition of Class 2 National Insurance contributions (NICs) for the self-employed. This flat rate contribution, currently £2.95 a week is payable by the self-employed in addition to Class 4 contributions based on the level of profits. The flat rate contributions were due to cease on 5 April 2019 but will now continue “for the life of this parliament”.
The reason for the u-turn concerns businesses owners with low profits or making losses. In order to maintain their NI Contribution record, many self-employed individuals voluntarily continue to pay Class 2 contributions despite their profits being below the £6,205 small earnings exemption. Having a full NI contribution history helps maximize an individual’s entitlement to State Benefits. For example full State Pension entitlement requires 35 years contributions.
With the abolition of Class 2 NICs, those with low profits or making losses would need to make voluntary Class 3 contributions (currently £14.65 a week, £761.80 a year) in order for that year to count as a contribution year.