Facts and figures about UK taxes, benefits and public spending.
Income distribution, poverty and inequality.
Analysing government fiscal forecasts and tax and spending.
Analysis of the fiscal choices an independent Scotland would face.
Case studies that give a flavour of the areas where IFS research has an impact on society.
Reforming the tax system for the 21st century.
A peer-reviewed quarterly journal publishing articles by academics and practitioners.
In these frequent observations, we look at aspects of topical issues related to our research programme. To sign up to receive email alerts when new observations are posted, please email Bonnie Brimstone.
Andrew Leicester and George Stoye
The government has committed itself to raising the share of revenues from green taxes over this Parliament. On its own definition of what constitutes a ‘green tax’, the pledge is on course to be met with ease. Alternative definitions of green taxes based on international convention, however, suggest that the pledge will be missed. We argue that such pledges are not a good guide to a government’s environmental credentials, and green tax policy should be justified by environmental issues rather than an arbitrary revenue target.
Last week marked the 70th anniversary of the Beveridge report. Today’s social security system bears almost no resemblance to the one he envisaged. His ambition for a system of social insurance in which benefits would be paid in return for contributions to those experiencing unemployment, sickness or old age did not prove robust to changes in the economy, in demography and in the labour market. Other benefits, especially means-tested benefits, have been layered on top of the original social insurance benefits to create a system which is too complex and, at times, incoherent.
Andrew Leicester and Martin O'Connell
The Home Office today released a consultation on policies aimed at reducing the social costs associated with alcohol consumption. The headline-grabbing proposal is a 45p minimum unit price for alcohol in England and Wales. We find the policy would have a significant impact, affecting almost six in ten off-licence alcohol units. However, it would be preferable to establish a price floor for alcohol through a restructured alcohol tax system in which tax is related to alcohol content more directly and retailers are banned from selling alcohol at less than the tax due.
In October the Office for National Statistics announced a consultation on possible reforms to the way in which one measure of inflation used in the UK, the Retail Prices Index, is calculated. This observation discusses what the proposed changes are and highlights that they could have far-reaching consequences.
In a ministerial statement last week the government announced a significant change to its policy to localise Council Tax Benefit (CTB) from next April. In this observation we ask why such a significant change has been announced to a policy two years after it was first announced, less than six months before councils will have to implement it and after many have already consulted on the structure of proposed schemes.
In his speech to the Conservative party conference today, the Chancellor of the Exchequer again stated an intention to reduce welfare expenditure by a further £10 billion per year by 2016–17. In this observation, IFS researchers analyse the suggested cuts.
The Government’s controversial reforms to higher education funding - involving an increase in the cap on tuition fees to £9,000 per year and the removal of most direct funding for universities - have this month been implemented. However, the new system is substantially more progressive than its predecessor, as the richest graduates are likely to repay ten times as much as the poorest, and would even pay back more than the value of what they borrowed. Here we summarise IFS research assessing who wins and who loses from these reforms.
On Monday, a major reform of workplace pensions in the UK will start to be rolled out. The majority of employees who work for large private sector companies will - for the first time - find themselves into an employer-sponsored pension scheme. IFS researchers examine the possible impact of this reform, due to be rolled out to cover all employers by February 2018.
It has been reported that the education secretary is planning radical reforms to GCSEs in England. With this year's GCSE results out tomorrow, IFS researchers examine the desirability of these potential reforms and whether they would actually represent a substantial change compared with the current system. The evidence also raises a third and more fundamental question: what are GCSEs for?
There is growing interest in how behavioural economics can be used effectively by policymakers. This observation considers some of the broad implications of behavioural insights for tax and benefit policy, drawing on new IFS research which explores the issues for particular aspects of policy in this area.
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