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.
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 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.
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?
Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts for public sector pay and employment suggest continuing cuts to public employment and large squeezes in pay relative to the private sector. Our analysis suggests that public sector pay relative to private sector pay will now return to its pre crisis level in 2013-14, two years earlier than implied by past forecasts. Forecast squeezes to public sector pay up to 2018-19 would further reduce the public-private pay gap below levels last seen in the early 2000s, when parts of the public sector had difficulties recruiting and retaining staff.
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.
New work by IFS researchers, funded by the Sutton Trust, suggests that grammar schools are disproportionately unlikely to admit students who are eligible for free school meals, even when conditioning on their academic performance in primary school. They are by contrast disproportionately likely to admit children who have attended private schools before age 11.
In a time of continuing fiscal austerity, policymakers increasingly want to know ‘what works’ and for whom, in order to target scarce resources on those who will benefit most and to ensure that policy has the desired impact upon those it is designed for. Basing policy decisions on evidence is undoubtedly a good thing - but only if the evidence used is robust, unbiased and methodologically sound. This observation uses recent IFS work on the link between parents’ marital status and relationship stability and child development to illustrate the challenges of using research to inform policymaking.
The EU Commission has opined that the UK’s Patent Box policy breaches the code of conduct for business taxation. There are concerns over whether the design of the policy is open to abuse, or will provide differential treatment for economically similar companies.
HM Revenue and Customs has now published, for the first time, estimates of the revenue raised by HMRC taxes in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In this observation we examine what can be learned from these figures.
The Prime Minister David Cameron has announced how the Government proposes to recognise some marriages and civil partnerships in the income tax system. From April 2015 it plans to make up to £1,000 of the income tax personal allowance transferable between adults who are married or in a civil partnership, so long as the higher-income adult is a basic-rate taxpayer. In this observation we briefly discuss this policy and its effects.
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