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Calls for extension to national insurance ‘holiday’ scheme

The Government is being urged to extend the scope of its regional employer national insurance (NIC) ‘holiday’ scheme, as figures reveal continuing low levels of take-up by small businesses.

The scheme, which was announced by Chancellor George Osborne in the 2010 Emergency Budget, allows new businesses outside London, the South East and the East of England an employer NIC holiday worth up to £5,000 for each of the first ten qualifying employees, in the first year of business.

However, with fewer than 9,000 businesses signing up to the scheme in the 16 months following its launch - far below predicted figures - the Government has been urged by opposition members to extend the scheme nationwide, in a bid to encourage more firms to take on staff.

The scheme is open to new businesses set up on or after 22 June 2010 and is scheduled to end on 5 September 2013.