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Public spending and finance
IFS researchers conduct ongoing analysis of the outturns of and outlook for the public finances. Our work in this area looks at forecasts of government revenues and spending (overall and on specific areas) and aims to inform public debate, particularly around the time of Budgets, Autumn Statements, Spending Reviews and Elections. Over many years we have kept track of the evolution of the public finances and how different governments have fared. A number of IFS publications have assessed the fiscal performance of past administrations.

The financial crisis and the economic damage associated with it opened up a structural hole in the public finances that, if left unaddressed, would be impervious to the economic recovery and would put public sector debt on an unsustainable path. The coalition Government faces a significant challenge to restore the public finances to better health. A comprehensive description of how the public finances evolved through the Great Recession can be found in Disease and cure in the UK: the fiscal impact of the crisis and the policy response.

Overview of research on public spending and finance.

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Year: 612 publications
22 January 2014
IFS analysis of January's public finance figures.
07 January 2014
There needs to be serious political debate about how much of a squeeze, the balance between taxes and spending, and the choices within spending should be over the next 18 months. None of the choices will be easy.
01 January 2014
This video and accompanying presentation slides draw on material given in a presentation to economics students, as part of a public economics series of lectures in December 2013 at the Institute for Fiscal Studies.
01 January 2014
This video and accompanying presentation slides draw on material given in a presentation to economics students, as part of a public economics series of lectures in December 2013 at the Institute for Fiscal Studies.
20 December 2013
IFS analysis of December's public finance figures.
21 November 2013
IFS analysis of November's public finance figures.
21 November 2013
The Autumn Statement is expected to contain a welcome upward revision to the forecast for economic growth this year and a welcome downward revision to the headline deficit. But any improvement will be small relative to the level of the deficit forecast in the Budget, and the deficit this year will still be very high by historical standards and relative to what was projected at the start of this Parliament and compared to what the Chancellor is ultimately hoping to achieve. So as the Chancellor George Osborne prepares for the Autumn Statement, if he is planning to make good on the promises of giveaways made during the party conference season he should also be considering new measures to pay for them.
22 October 2013
IFS analysis of October's public finance figures.
10 October 2013
IFS Director, Paul Johnson spoke to Giles Dilnot and looked at some golden moments from economic policy speeches.
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Impact on Society
An IFS economist advised a “Citizens Jury” on the welfare system, including basic facts and important issues about its purpose and structure.
Past research into pension reform has contributed to evidence given to government on public service pensions.
Public spending analysis stokes public debate and prompts increased transparency over government’s plans for spending cuts.
IFS researchers have evaluated whether the temporary VAT cut was able to boost the economy effectively.
IFS researchers helped make a case against proposed cuts to public spending on science.
IFS arguments for independent official fiscal forecasts contributed to the government’s decision to set up an Office for Budget Responsibility.
IFS recommendations for presenting fiscal forecasts are being taken up by the new Office for Budget Responsibility.
Research told policymakers that, despite greater expenditure on health care, Americans are less healthy than their English counterparts.
IFS researchers assessed the government’s fiscal rules and advised policymakers as to how they could be made more credible.
We provided evidence to the Browne Review of higher education funding about the impact of a number of higher education finance reforms.
IFS researchers draw together lessons from behavioural economics for tax and benefit policy in a report aimed at policymakers.
We analysed the impact of the 2006 HE funding reforms and informed the surrounding debate.
IFS researchers have investigated whether it is possible to measure the distributional impact of changes to spending on public services.