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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
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. ...
Observation
Robert Chote and Carl Emmerson
The Liberal Democrat manifesto contains more extensive and more detailed tax and spending proposals than those of the other main UK parties. But taking as given the Liberal Democrats' estimates of the amounts that their proposals will cost and raise, the document is less clear than it could be in ...
Observation
The Liberal Democrats propose to increase the income tax personal allowance to £10,000 while keeping the level of income at which people start to pay the higher rate of tax unchanged. They say this giveaway would cost £16.8 billion in 2011-12. They also propose a set of significant ...
Observation
Robert Chote and Carl Emmerson
The Conservative manifesto did not tell us anything about their tax and spending plans we did not already know. In particular, it was no more explicit about how much more ambitious the Conservatives would be than the Government in reducing the budget deficit over the medium term. The Conservatives ...
Observation
The Liberal Democrats have, once again, claimed that the poor pay more of their income in tax than the rich, and that this gap has got larger under Labour. But, by ignoring the fact that the poor get most of this income from the state in benefit and tax credit payments, and by overstating the ...
Observation
Robert Chote, Rowena Crawford and Carl Emmerson
The key question for the next Government is what size and combination of public spending cuts and tax increases to implement to repair our public finances. Anyone looking for a more detailed answer from Labour in its manifesto will have been disappointed.
Observation
Robert Chote
As we watch the parties squabble over how much can be achieved in efficiency savings this year, it is worth remembering that we will not be able to judge with confidence which was right even after the event.
Observation
Robert Chote and Carl Emmerson
Last week Chancellor Alistair Darling warned us not to expect a giveaway in next week's Budget, while his Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Liam Byrne, reassured us that the Government could halve the deficit by 2013-14 without announcing any further tax increases. If both statements prove correct ...
Observation
In his 2008 Conservative party conference speech, Shadow Chancellor George Osborne announced that an incoming Conservative government would freeze Council Tax in England for two years. Over the past month, the parties have been disputing how much it would cost, if it were to be implemented in ...