Facts and figures about UK taxes, benefits and public spending.
Income distribution, poverty and inequality.
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Analysing government fiscal forecasts and tax and spending.
Analysis of the fiscal choices an independent Scotland would face.
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Reforming the tax system for the 21st century.
A peer-reviewed quarterly journal publishing articles by academics and practitioners.
Authors: Robert Chote and Carl Emmerson
The new coalition Government has announced a £6.2 billion headline cut to public spending in the current year. Since £500 million is being recycled into additional spending or tax cuts, and the £704 million earmarked for devolved administrations does not have to be found until next year, the likely reduction in borrowing in 2010-11 is around £5 billion. This is less than a tenth of the fiscal repair job that Alistair Darling's March 2010 Budget forecast suggested will be needed over the next few years.
Of the £5 billion reduction in borrowing £4.8 billion is to come from reduced spending by central government on public services and their administration (Departmental Expenditure Limits, DELs). The rest is from cuts to the Child Trust Fund, offset by a small cut in business rates. This is a fall in these budgets of 1.2% relative to the level departments were told they could budget for under the previous Labour Government's plans. Labour had planned to cut these budgets by 0.5% after economy-wide inflation between 2009-10 and 2010-11: the 1.2% cut in plans for 2010-11 announced today increases this cut to 1.7%.
As promised the new coalition Government is keeping to Labour's planned increases in spending in the NHS, MoD and overseas aid. In addition they have decided not to cut spending on schools, Sure Start and education for 16-19 year olds. Our calculations - largely based on spending figures made available from the Treasury -suggest that on average the areas of spending that have not been protected from cuts in today's announcement will see their budgets fall by an extra 3.7%. This brings the total cut in these areas relative those planned for last year up from 4.7% to 8.2%. (An earlier version of this observation contained slightly different numbers as it was produced before any figures were made available from the Treasury.)
The Table below shows our estimate of the cuts to each department as a share of the previous Labour Government's plans, and the change in budget compared to last year.
Note: Figures take account of increases in spending in the CLG Communities and the Business, Innovation and Skills departments. Chancellor's Departments ignores the cut to the Child Trust Fund.
View all Observations in the series
Does offering higher teacher salaries improve pupil attainment?
In new work published today, IFS researchers analyse the impact of offering higher teacher salaries on pupil attainment. We examine salary scales and pupil attainment in primary schools in and around London. For these schools, and for the salary differences of just under 5% that we observe, we do not find evidence that higher salary scales for teachers have much impact on pupil attainment. This suggests that if individual schools offered salary differentials on this scale across-the-board, they would not necessarily attract more effective teachers.
The next five years look better but tough fiscal choices remain for Scotland
The latest public finance forecasts published by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) in December presented a better outlook for the UK than had been suggested by their March forecast. This is good news for the UK and Scotland in the short-term but much of the improved short-term outlook comes at the expense of reduced scope for economic recovery after 2018–19. Also the one area of greater weakness in the OBR’s latest forecast – revenues from oil and gas production – has substantially more adverse consequences for Scotland’s fiscal position than for the UK as a whole. In short, the new forecasts do little to diminish the tough choices that will face Scotland (and, to a lesser extent, the UK) if it is to achieve long-run fiscal sustainability.
50p tax – strolling across the summit of the Laffer curve?
Ed Balls and Ed Milliband have cited recent HMRC statistics which show those paying the 50% income tax rate are estimated to have paid some £10 billion more in tax over the three years 2010-11 to 2012-13 than was projected to be the case back in 2012 when HMRC analysed how much the tax was raising. Is that an indication that the 50p rate was more successful in raising revenue than HMRC concluded in their analysis?