Our goal at the Institute for Fiscal Studies is to promote effective economic and social policies by better understanding how policies affect individuals, families, businesses and the government's finances.

How much would it really cost to write off student debt?

Amid continuing debate over university tuition fees there remains confusion over some important numbers. This Observation looks at the costs involved in some of the policies that have recently been proposed.

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Directory of longitudinal population studies launched

IFS has launched a new searchable directory of Low and Middle Income country Longitudinal Population Studies. Developed on behalf of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Wellcome Trust, it aims to provide a valuable resource for researchers, funders and those interested in understanding changing socio-economic and health circumstances and to enhance opportunities for international and interdisciplinary research collaboration.

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Public sector pay: still time for restraint?

The government is considering easing the current restraint on the pay of public sector workers. It had previously announced in 2015 that public sector pay scales would only increase by an average of 1% per year up to and including 2019–20. This briefing note describes the trade-offs faced by the government when deciding how to set public sector pay.

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Two Budgets this year add up to one big problem for Hammond

In the run-up to the second Budget of the year, Paul Johnson looks at the challenges facing the Chancellor in a time of austerity and uncertainty.

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The local vantage: how views of local government finance vary across councils

Local government finance in England in the 2010s can be characterised by two major trends: large cuts to council budgets; and a shift from centralised redistribution of funding towards a greater emphasis on fiscal incentives for revenue growth. In this context, this report looks at how the views of councils’ decision-makers on service quality and business rates retention relate to the financial, political and socio-economic characteristics of their councils.

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Under pressure? NHS maternity services in England

NHS Maternity Units are more likely to close towards the end of the week and during holiday periods, pointing to staff availability as a source of pressure. This is a key finding of new research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), examining sources of short-run and long-run pressures on maternity units in England.

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NHS services in the face of increasing demand - what does it mean for patients?

The NHS currently faces unprecedented financial and operational pressures, with commissioners and NHS providers facing significant challenges to providing high quality services to patients with limited resources. IFS is holding an event on Monday 11 September, presenting new research on how NHS services respond to unexpected increases in demand.

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