David Phillips
David Phillips
Senior Research Economist

MSc (Distinction) Economics, UCL, 2007 - 2009
BA (Hons) Economics (I), Cambridge University, 2006

David is a Senior Research Economist, currently working in the Direct Tax and Welfare sector and the Centre for the Evaluation of Development Policy (EDePo@IFS). Most of David's work is arranged around the broad themes of poverty, inequality and the tax and benefit system and includes projects both in the UK and in middle income countries. Recent projects include analysis of the distributional and behavioural impacts of tax reforms in Mexico and El Salvador for the World Bank; an assessment of the impact of welfare reforms on labour supply in Wales; and analysis of poverty and inequality in the UK.He is also working with Magali Beffy, Guy Laroque and Costas Meghir on models of family labour supply, a piece of work that has grown out of his work for the Mirrlees Review. More recent research interests include local government spending and the analysis of fiscal issues in the devolved nations of the UK, especially those related to the Scottish independence debate. He also has experience analysing social capital, human capital and consumer demand.

Substantial cuts made, but biggest changes to the benefit system yet to come

| Observations

The coalition government has implemented changes to the benefit system that mean spending in 2015–16 will be £16.7 billion (7%) lower than it would otherwise have been. Real terms benefit spending, however, is forecast to be almost exactly the same in 2015–16 as it was in 2010–11, at £220 billion. This reflects the effect of underlying economic and demographic factors which are pushing up spending – most importantly an ageing population, but also weak wage growth and rising private rents. Of course there have been some controversial benefit cuts. But, most of the major structural changes, such as universal credit, have run into problems, and are yet to be delivered. So far then, the reforms actually in place represent an evolution of the system rather than revolution promised. These are among the findings of a new Election Briefing Note on the coalition’s reforms to the benefit system, part of a programme of work at the IFS in the run up to the election, funded by the Nuffield Foundation.

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