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Brexit, devolution and local government

Recent years have seen big – and sometimes divisive – debates about, and changes to, the governance of the UK: Brexit; the Scottish independence referendum; and shifts in responsibility from central to devolved and local governance. The IFS has played a key role in informing these debates, providing authoritative and impartial analysis of the key economic issues involved.

In the run up to the EU referendum, we assessed the potential fiscal and economic effects of Brexit and the channels by which immigration can affect the public finances. Since the vote to leave the EU, we have analysed the exposure of households’ food spending to tariffs and the exchange rate, and have begun work on the effects of trade shocks on labour market outcomes and regional economies, and potential policy responses.

Our work on Scottish independence examined the short- and long-term fiscal outlook for an independent Scotland, and considered options for tax and benefit reforms. More recently, IFS research has focused on changes to the funding regimes for Scotland and Wales within the UK.

The IFS has also launched a new programme of research and analysis in the context of ongoing major changes to the local government finance to inform policy decisions and to provide new evidence on the impact of reforms on local outcomes. Alongside this we analyse local government social care spending, and the interactions with health service utilisation. And we have undertaken work on police pensions and spending in the context of shifts in responsibility from central government to local taxpayers, and wide variations in local tax capacity.


Journal article | Economic Journal
The impact of immigration on the public finances is an important influence on public opinion. In this study, Ian Preston sets out the channels by which immigration can affect the public finances.
Journal article | Oxford Review of Economic Policy
Economics was front and centre during the run-up to the June 2016 referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU. Paul Johnson and Ian Mitchell discuss the economics of Brexit and lessons for the economics profession.


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Neil Amin Smith
Research Economist
Rowena Crawford
Associate Director
Peter Levell
Senior Research Economist
Agnes Norris Keiller
Research Economist
David Phillips
Associate Director
Polly Simpson
Research Economist