Our goal at the Institute for Fiscal Studies is to promote effective economic and social policies by better understanding how policies affect individuals, families, businesses and the government's finances.

Does free childcare help parents work?

The government is planning to extend free part-time childcare for 3 and 4 year olds in England from 15 to 30 hours per week from September 2017. One of the aims of the policy is to enable parents to work more – but is it likely to achieve this aim? New analysis from researchers at IFS, Essex and Warwick investigates the issue.

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Council-level figures on spending cuts and business rates income

Last month, researchers at the Institute for Fiscal Studies launched the first paper from a new programme on local government finance. This paper looked at a range of issues including, changes in councils’ spending and revenues over the last seven years, and issues related to the evolving English business rates retention scheme (BRRS). Today, we publish two spreadsheets with information for individual council areas: a spreadsheet showing changes to councils’ spending on services between 2009–10 and 2016–17; and a spreadsheet showing relative gains and losses from the BRRS since it was introduced in 2013–14.

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The distribution of healthcare spending: an international comparison

A special issue of Fiscal Studies published today looks at patterns of individual level health spending across a range of countries, and finds some important similarities. It shows how health spending is concentrated in the last years of life, how significantly more is spent on the poor than on the rich and how health spending tends to be concentrated on a relatively small number of people with high needs.

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Automatic enrolment boosts pension membership and pension saving

Automatic enrolment – where employers have to enrol employees into a workplace pension scheme, which employees can then choose to leave – increased pension saving by £2.5 billion per year by April 2015. This is one of the main findings of new research, published today by the IFS and funded by the IFS retirement saving consortium. The research exploits data on almost half a million jobs from April 2011 to April 2015 to look at how contributions to workplace pensions by private sector employers and their employees have been affected by automatic enrolment.

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Flexibility is key to writing the fiscal rulebook

There have been twelve fiscal rules since 1997, ten of which have been broken or abandoned. Writing in The Times, IFS Director Paul Johnson says the Chancellor should allow some flexibility to adjust plans and borrow for investment as the world changes.

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The fall in sterling: who is hit by the rise in inflation?

This morning the Office for National Statistics announced that CPI inflation rose to 0.9% in the year to October, down from an inflation rate of 1.0% in the year to September but still substantially up from 0.6% in the year to August. The Bank of England expect inflation to rise further, to 2.4% in 2017 and 2.8% in 2018 – considerably higher than the 1.5% and 2.1% expected back in May. Most of this forecast increase is driven by the recent devaluation of the pound, which pushes up the price of imports. In this Observation we look at how the overall 2.5% increase in the price level which is likely to result from sterling’s decline since the June referendum will affect the prices of different goods. We then look at whether this is likely to have a bigger effect on poorer or richer households.

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