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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
Lord Browne's recommendations for higher education funding have provoked controversy. The potential sharp increase in tuition fees has grabbed the headlines, but another proposed measure has also received considerable attention: increasing the interest rate on student loans to 2.2% above RPI ...
Observation
Thomas Crossley, Andrew Leicester and Peter Levell
The September 2010 inflation numbers, used for the annual inflation adjustments to many taxes, benefits and tax credits, were published today by the ONS. In June, the Chancellor announced that benefits would be uprated with the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) rather than the Retail Prices Index (RPI) ...
Observation
The Spending Review, to be finalised later this month, will provide detail regarding the large reductions in spending on public services that will be implemented over the next four years. The estimation of the distributional impacts of cuts in spending on public services is substantially more ...
Observation
Antoine Bozio, Carl Emmerson and Gemma Tetlow
Lord Hutton's interim report on public service pensions recommended an increase in employee contributions in the short term. Suggestions for more fundamental reforms of the pensions will be made in the Commission's final report next spring. Any such recommendations should consider how cost ...
Observation
Mike Brewer and James Browne
The Government has announced that child benefit will be withdrawn from families containing a higher-rate taxpayer from April 2013. This would save around £1 billion a year, but the way it will be withdrawn looks unfair to some families, and will seriously distort work incentives for some ...
Observation
The consultation period on the Government's ideas for fundamental reforms to the benefits system ends on 1 October. Integrating all benefits and tax credits should create a system which is simpler for both claimants and government, but the Government will need to explain much more clearly how a ...
Observation
Stuart Adam and James Browne
The Department of Work and Pensions today published a consultation paper called 21st Century Welfare which sets out ideas for fundamental reforms to the benefits system. The report presents a number of options for integrating different existing benefits.
Observation
Haroon Chowdry, Lorraine Dearden and Gill Wyness
Last week the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Vince Cable, suggested a graduate tax as a 'fairer' replacement for tuition fees in higher education. All the Labour leadership candidates - with the exception of David Miliband - have expressed support for this idea, as has the ...
Observation
Andrew Leicester and Peter Levell
The Coalition agreement reiterated the Conservative's manifesto pledge to "increase the proportion of tax revenue accounted for by environmental taxes". Past experience suggests that this is easier said than done: environmental taxes fell sharply as a share of total receipts during the Labour ...
Observation
As part of an international collaboration funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and the Australian Research Council, researchers at the IFS and the Australian National University have sought to compare the nature of private schooling in both Australia and the UK.
Observation
Robert Chote
Now that the Office for Budget Responsibility has delivered its judgement that the structural hole in the public finances is slightly larger than Alistair Darling claimed in his final Budget in March, attention turns to how George Osborne might go about filling it in his first Budget next week.
Observation
Haroon Chowdry and Luke Sibieta
The coalition government has announced ambitious plans for a new generation of schools inspired by the Swedish model of "free schools." Creating these new schools will clearly involve a capital cost. However, capital spending is likely to be significantly cut across most departments over ...
Observation
Iain Duncan Smith, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, today gave a little more detail on the Government's plans for welfare reform, suggesting that the benefit system needed simplifying, incentives to work strengthening, and welfare-to-work programmes reforming . But what can actually be ...
Observation
Robert Chote and Carl Emmerson
The new coalition Government has announced a £6.2 billion headline cut to public spending in the current year. Since £500 million is being recycled into additional spending or tax cuts, and the £704 million earmarked for devolved administrations does not have to be found until ...
Observation
The Labour party is pointing to the fact that the Conservative Party and Liberal Democrats are proposing cuts to child tax credit for middle- to high-income families with children. But just what cuts are being proposed and which families would be affected? And how different is this from current ...
Observation
All the main UK political parties claim to have put the needs of families at the heart of their campaigns. The Conservative Party has also pledged to end the couple penalty for all couples in the tax credit system. How does the reality - as measured by specific pledges in their manifestos - match ...
Observation
The Conservatives have pledged in their manifesto to "increase the proportion of tax revenues accounted for by environmental taxes, ensuring that any additional revenues from new green taxes that are principally designed as an environmental measure to change behaviour are used to reduce the burden ...
Observation
Haroon Chowdry, Alastair Muriel and Luke Sibieta
On the face of it, there appears to be much agreement between the three main UK parties on education policy: they all propose the creation of new schools or academies, and all plan to introduce a 'pupil premium' that is intended to provide more funds to schools with disadvantaged pupils. On closer ...
Observation
Today's GDP figures show that the economy grew by 0.2% in the first quarter of 2010. In the election campaign much has been made of the impact of the timing of spending cuts and tax increases on the ability of the UK economy to sustain this recovery. This is an important issue, but much less ...
Observation
Sensibly, there is general agreement between the three main parties on the need to tackle the large rise in youth and long-term unemployment caused by the recession, and all parties have policies to help deal with the high number of people who are out of work and receiving disability benefits. ...