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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
27 June 2013
This presentation was given at the IFS analysis of the government's Spending Review on 27 June 2013.
27 June 2013
This presentation was given at the IFS analysis of the government's Spending Review on 27 June 2013.
21 June 2013
IFS analysis of June's public finance figures.
22 May 2013
Sandeepa Arora, Anita Charlesworth, Elaine Kelly and George Stoye
The changing landscape of health care in the 2000s
22 May 2013
IFS analysis of this month's public finance figures.
08 May 2013
The UK is in the fourth year of a planned eight-year fiscal tightening. Following further announcements made in Budget 2013, this fiscal consolidation is now forecast to total £143 billion by 2017–18. The UK is intending the fourth largest fiscal consolidation among the 29 advanced economies for which comparable data are available. By the end of this financial year, half of the total consolidation is expected to have been implemented. However, within this tax increases and cuts to investment spending have been relatively front-loaded, while cuts to welfare spending and other non-investment spending have been relatively back-loaded.
23 April 2013
IFS analysis of this month's public finance figures.
19 April 2013
The March Budget forecast that borrowing would fall by £0.1 billion from £121.0 billion in 2011–12 to £120.9 billion in 2012–13. On Tuesday, the Office for National Statistics is due to release its first estimate of public sector net borrowing in March 2013 and, therefore, for the whole of 2012–13. Borrowing could easily end up being higher or lower than it was in the previous year, either due to backwards revisions, the uncertainty inherent in forecasting borrowing even a month in advance, or both. However, whether borrowing is slightly up or down in cash terms is economically irrelevant. Either way, the bigger picture is that having fallen by roughly a quarter between 2009–10 and 2011–12, borrowing is forecast to be broadly constant through to 2013–14.
22 March 2013
IFS analysis of this month's public finance figures.
21 March 2013
Presentation given at the IFS post budget briefing, 21 March, 2013.
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Browse publications & research

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.