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Observations

In these frequent and topical observations, we comment on policy issues related to our research programme. Sign up to receive email alerts when new observations are posted, or scroll down to subscribe to one of our RSS feeds.
Observation
Since 2000, all households containing a person aged 75 or over have been entitled to receive a free TV licence, paid for by the government. From June 2020 onwards, the government will no longer provide the funds for these free TV licences and the BBC therefore has to decide whether to continue to ...
Observation
Pension freedoms gave people much more flexibility over how to use their savings in retirement. But very few now purchase annuities in order to guarantee an income. We find that an important reason could be that people underestimate how long they will live.
Observation
Today Amber Rudd, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, announced that the ‘two-child limit’ in tax credits and Universal Credit will not apply to children born before the policy was implemented in April 2017. This tackles the ‘retrospective’ application of the policy that had ...
Observation
Six years ago today, Child Benefit was first withdrawn from families containing someone whose annual income is above £50,000 a year. This threshold has since remained frozen in cash terms and there remain no plans to change it.
Observation
Funding from local taxes available in the new local government finance system proposed by the government is unlikely to keep pace with rising spending pressures in coming years.
Observation
The Office for National Statistics has announced that it will be revising the treatment of student loans in the public finances. This is a sensible move as it aligns the accounting treatment more closely with economic reality. Even though it makes no difference to the long-run cost of Higher ...
Observation
Following the provisional local government finance settlement for 2019–20, we look at how the funding cuts made over the four years between 2015–16 and 2019–20 are set to vary around the country.
Observation
IFS analysis shows that willingness to pay to use community toilets is low in slums in India but that this could potentially increase if the cleanliness and quality of the facility is improved.
Observation
New figures show that men tend to spend longer commuting to work than women. IFS analysis shows that this ‘gender commuting gap’ starts to widen after the birth of the first child in the family and continues to grow around a decade after that. This bears a striking resemblance to the evolution ...
Observation
Chris Belfield and Laura van der Erve
Universities are a key determinant of the earnings power of graduates. But when considering the role universities play in determining the living standards and socially mobility of graduates, it is vital to incorporate the wider impacts of higher education on both other sources of income and ...
Observation
In a speech on Tuesday 9th October, the Secretary of State for International Development, Penny Mordaunt, touched upon a number of important issues taking centre stage in current debates on UK aid spending, including Brexit and the role of private sector investment. These two substantive issues are ...
Observation
Today the Social Metrics Commission has published its report on a new approach to poverty measurement in the UK. This observation summarises and discusses the work of the Commission and the conclusions that it reached.
Observation
The 2008 financial crisis precipitated what has proved to be a big and permanent hit to the size and structure of the UK economy. It affects our incomes and the tough choices we face today.
Observation
Despite receiving 55% of A levels overall in 2018, girls received just 43% of A levels awarded in STEM subjects. Rachel Cassidy, Sarah Cattan and Claire Crawford explore what drives girls’ A level choices, including why they may or may not opt for maths or physics.
Observation
Today the Scottish Government released the latest version of Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (GERS) covering 2017–18. In this observation we discuss what we can learn about Scotland’s fiscal position from these figures. And we look beyond the headline deficit figures to look at the ...
Observation
Governments are responsible for spending huge amounts of public money. Effective control of that spending is essential if governments are to meet their fiscal objectives, deliver their desired policy outcomes, and achieve value for money for the taxpayer. A new IFS report, published today as part ...
Observation
There is a current debate about whether the definition of self-employment should be aligned across tax and employment law. At present there is a rather complex situation – illustrated by a recent court case involving Pimlico Plumbers – in which an individual can be deemed a worker in employment ...
Observation
Yesterday, the Prime Minister announced a ‘70th Birthday present’ for the NHS, pledging average real annual increases of 3.4% per year for the next five years. One challenge for the Government is where the money to pay for this will come from. After social security spending, the NHS is the ...
Observation
Yesterday we heard the first details of a new five-year funding settlement for the NHS in England. It was announced NHS England funding would be slightly more than £20 billion higher in 2023-24 than in 2018–19 after adjusting for forecast economy-wide inflation over the period. This represents ...
Observation
Analysis of the SNP’s Sustainable Growth Commission’s proposals