Facts and figures about UK taxes, benefits and public spending.
Income distribution, poverty and inequality.
Slides, video clips and interactive tools.
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.
Today the Government will publish a White Paper detailing plans to replace the current Basic State Pension and State Second Pension with a single state pension. The proposed reforms would be a welcome simplification of the current rather complex rules, particularly in the short run, but they also imply a reduction in the state pensions that most people born after around 1970 can expect to receive from the state. This cut in the generosity of pension benefits for currently young people will help reduce public spending on pensioners in the longer-run as pressures from an ageing population intensify. Reducing state support will also increase the incentives for younger cohorts to save privately for their retirement.
The Welfare Benefits Up-rating Bill proposes to cap the annual increases in most working-age benefits at 1% in cash terms in 2014-15 and 2015-16, in addition to the 1% cap on increases already confirmed for 2013-14. This observation examines the effects of this proposal on incomes and work incentives, and puts this in the broader context of trends during the recession and subsequent fiscal tightening
On Monday, Child Benefit will effectively become an income-related benefit for the first time. This observation reviews the key features of this new policy, highlights unaddressed issues regarding its operation in the long run, and considers how it will fit into the wider welfare system.
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.
Browse publications & research