20 May 2021
Freeport operators will be able to take advantage of a zero rate of secondary national insurance contributions (NICs) for employees, the government has announced.
The National Insurance Contributions Bill, which legislates reliefs for those operating in Freeports, has now been published.
The Bill confirms that from April 2022, organisations with employees spending 60% or more of their time in a Freeport site will be eligible for relief on secondary Class 1 NICs for 36 months. The relief will be available to new employees earning up to £25,000 per annum.
The Bill also ensures that where an employer makes no secondary NICs in respect of an employee because of the Freeports relief, the employee's earnings are nevertheless taken into account for the purposes of calculating apprenticeship levy.
In 2020 the government consulted on proposals to create up to ten Freeports across the UK. A UK Freeport will be a geographical area with a diameter up to 45km which is closely linked to a seaport, airport or rail port. East Midlands Airport, Felixstowe and Harwich, Humber, Liverpool City Region, Plymouth and South Devon, Solent, Teesside and Thames have been successful in the Freeports bidding process for England.
The government is now proposing a range of measures covering customs, tax reliefs, planning, regeneration funding and innovation to create Freeports as national hubs for global trade and investment across the UK.