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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
A special issue of Fiscal Studies launched today shows how wealth is concentrated among a small number of households, and is much more concentrated than incomes. Younger generations are on course to have less wealth at each point in life than earlier generations and inheritances do little to even ...
Observation
James Browne, Paul Johnson and David Phillips
In a new report out today IFS researchers provide an explanation of how the EU budget works, its size, where revenues come from and what the main areas of spending are. They also provide an estimate of the UK’s net contributions to the EU. The overall net contribution will be a little over £8 ...
Observation
Rowena Crawford and Gemma Tetlow
April 6th marks the first day of the new state pension: everyone reaching state pension age after today will accrue entitlement to, and claim, a state pension under the new rules. Legislated for by the coalition government in 2013, this is the most radical overhaul of state pension policy in the UK ...
Observation
In Budget 2016 the Chancellor announced a “soft drinks industry levy” due to take effect from April 2018. The charge will be levied on soft drinks that contain added sugar and is aimed at “help[ing] tackle childhood obesity.” It has followed calls from various bodies for intervention to ...
Observation
The Scottish Government’s Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (GERS) estimates the overall levels of government revenues and spending in Scotland and the implicit budget deficit or surplus in the previous year. With a new version of GERS reporting figures for 2014-15 and new UK-wide ...
Observation
Andrew Hood and Paul Johnson
There has been a lot of dispute in recent days over the extent to which “we have all been in this together” or government tax and benefit reforms have been “fair”. There are obviously many different ways of assessing this. In this observation we draw on recent IFS work to provide some ...
Observation
The UK and Scottish Governments have so far failed to agree the new 'fiscal framework' that must accompany the transfer of tax and welfare powers recommended by the Smith Commission and set out in the Scotland Bill. Perhaps the biggest bone of contention is how to adjust Scotland’s block grant to ...
Observation
Corporate tax has rarely excited the imagination of the public as much as in recent years. This week Google has become the latest company to attract widespread anger over the amount of tax it has paid in the UK. The sense that there are some big, profitable companies paying relatively little in ...
Observation
David Innes and David Phillips
Yesterday was a big day for local government in England. The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) published the Provisional Local Government Funding Settlement – which sets out how much in the way of core grants it plans to give each English council every year between 2016–17 ...
Observation
Carl Emmerson and Gemma Tetlow
The onset of the global financial crisis was quickly followed by a substantial increase in government borrowing in many European countries. To offset this, packages of tax rises and spending cuts were implemented in many countries. The approaches taken have shown similarities but also important ...
Observation
As George Osborne prepares for next week’s combined Autumn Statement and Spending Review announcement, figures released today by the Office for National Statistics suggest that he is on course to slightly overshoot the latest official forecast for borrowing this year of £69.5 billion. To meet ...
Observation
The Scotland Bill, currently making its way through the Houses of Parliament, will transfer a range of tax and spending powers from Westminster to the Scottish Parliament. At the same time, an adjustment will have to be made to Scotland’s block grant funding from Westminster – a key part of the ...
Observation
James Browne
The Institute for Fiscal Studies has published a comprehensive analysis of the impact of the government’s current tax and benefit plans and the National Living Wage on household incomes and financial work incentives. This Observation article summarises the main findings of that report ahead of ...
Observation
Rowena Crawford, Richard Disney and David Innes
Public spending on the police was cut by 14% in real terms between 2010–11 and 2014–15. This Observation article, which summarises the main findings of new IFS research, places these spending cuts in the context of the large spending increases over the 2000s, and explores the differences ...
Observation
All ethnic minority groups in England are now, on average, more likely to go to university than their White British peers. This is the case even amongst groups who were previously under-represented in higher education, such as those of Black Caribbean ethnic origin, a relatively recent change. ...
Observation
Chris Belfield and Luke Sibieta
Like the NHS, day-to-day spending on schools was protected from cuts in the last parliament and the new Conservative government has announced protections for schools spending in this parliament too. However, rising costs mean that schools are likely to face real-terms cuts on spending per pupil for ...
Observation
This Observation comes from an article published in a special edition of Fiscal Studies, based on IFS analysis for the 2015 general election.
Observation
Gemma Tetlow
Last week’s Budget was the first of the new Parliament and the first by a Conservative government for nearly two decades. Following the pattern of all other general elections since 1987, the government announced a package of tax measures raising in excess of £5 billion a year. But there were ...
Observation
The 8 July Budget may prove to be George Osborne’s best chance to bring in some much-needed reforms to our creaking and increasingly incoherent tax system. This observation suggests some important directions for reform and calls for an improvement in the way policy is made. If this is to be a ...
Observation
Productivity is currently the most talked about topic in town, and for good reason. At the end of 2014 UK productivity remained below its pre-recession level and 16% below where it would have been had the pre-recession trend continued. Looking forward, it is only productivity growth that is likely ...