THE rate at which National Insurance is charged went up yesterday by 1.25 per cent – an extra unwelcome cost for many people at a time of extreme and unprecedented pressure on family budgets.

However, to be fair to the Government, Rishi Sunak has implemented measures that will mitigate the rise for many individuals: when thresholds change in July, most people earning less than £34,000 will be better off. Therefore, the rise will fall on wealthier people, which is what most commentators have been calling for.

But still the Government is in a complete pickle over this. It only raised NI so it could avoid breaking its manifesto promise not to raise Income Tax. It justified the rise in NI by saying the proceeds would help the NHS worked through its pandemic backlog, but now it hasn’t explained which parts of the backlog are not going to be tackled because the revenue from the rise isn’t as great as first thought.

And, as if by magic, the backlog will be cleared and social care will be properly funded by 2024 as Mr Sunak has already decided public services will not need as much money and so he can cut Income Tax by a penny.

This makes him feel like a tax-cutting Chancellor, but, with this week’s NI rise hitting companies which already have a large rise in corporation tax coming at them, the Government is taking more in tax than any time in 70 years.

It is difficult to see what all this chopping and changing, all these swings and roundabouts, is really going to achieve, other than creating more work for tax advisors while the very poorest see more of their tight budget disappear.