Election Briefing Notes (BN93)

The public finances: 1997 to 2010

Date: 19 April 2010
Authors: Robert Chote , Rowena Crawford , Carl Emmerson and Gemma Tetlow
Publisher: Institute for Fiscal Studies
DOI: 10.1920/bn.ifs.2010.0093

This general election briefing note looks at how overall levels of borrowing and debt changed between 1997 and 2010. Some discussion is, necessarily, included of trends in taxation and spending; however, readers who are particularly interested in the levels of taxation and spending during Labour's period in office may also wish to refer to two other notes in this series of IFS Election 2010 Briefing Notes. Section 2 describes how the UK public finances evolved between 1997 and 2007 (prior to the financial crisis). It then compares this to the pattern observed during the period of Conservative governments from 1979 to 1997 and to the trend seen in other industrial countries. Section 3 carries out the same analysis, but for the period between 2007 and 2010, when the financial crisis and associated recession adversely affected the public finances of the UK and of many other countries.