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Brown must leave NI benefits alone

AGENDA COMMENT

CONSTRUCTION has a poor record when it comes to gaining the ear of Chancellor Gordon Brown ahead of the Budget.

But this year he must listen or cur rent plans to end National Insurance exemptions could blow a £38 million hole in the industry's finances.

The NI concession is granted to contractors paying for holiday pay through the B&CE benefits scheme.

The cash is not pocketed by companies but goes towards paying for other benefits through B&CE like accident cover and stakeholder pension schemes.

But other industries have latched onto the idea and are profiting from the concession without ploughing the savings back into extra benefits for workers.

This tricky accountancy has alerted the Treasury, which is now looking to review the whole scheme.

Construction should not be made to suffer because other sectors are trying to make a fast buck out of tax breaks.

Mr Brown needs to take a sensible look at this issue rather than treating all industries the same.

The B&CE scheme has provided cover for thousands of workers and put them on their first steps to providing decent pension provision.

To undo all that good work in one fell swoop of the Chancellor's pen would be an outrage.