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Public spending and finance

We conduct ongoing analysis of the outturns of, and outlook for, the public finances. Our work in this area assesses the records of successive governments, and looks at forecasts for government revenues and spending (overall and in specific areas), with the aim of informing the public debate.

We conduct timely analysis of issues related to budgets, spending reviews, and elections. Our website provides data and useful background information on historic trends and recent issues relating to public spending and the public finances.

IFS research also examines topics related to the public finances in more depth. For example, recent papers have reflected on the Brexit vote, considered the fiscal challenges and opportunities for an independent Scotland, and explored international comparisons of the public finances in the Great Recession.

Public spending and finance

Past event
IFS researchers presented their analysis of the main party manifestos at a press briefing event on Friday 26 May (postponed from the original date of Tuesday 23 May due to events in Manchester).
This report examines both the direct and indirect effects of Brexit on the UK’s public finances, based on a comprehensive review of studies analysing the short- and long- term economic effects of Brexit.


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Rowena Crawford
Associate Director
Thomas Pope
Research Economist
David Phillips
Associate Director
( 313 results found )
Book chapter
The financing of local public services involves a potential trade-off between the equalisation of funding between areas and the provision of fiscal incentives for economic growth. It also involves trade-offs between local discretion and national service standards. This chapter of the British ...
The last 25 years have seen two periods of public expenditure restraint in the UK (the 1990s and the 2010s) and one period of increased spending (between 2000 and 2010). Over that whole time, the Treasury has been responsible for controlling government spending, setting fiscal rules and the overall ...
To mark the BBC’s coverage of the NHS’s 70th birthday in July 2018, researchers from the Institute for Fiscal Studies, Health Foundation, The King’s Fund and the Nuffield Trust have come together for the first time, using combined expertise to shed light on some of the big questions on the ...
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 ...
IFS Working Paper W18/15
Recent years have seen substantial reductions in public spending on social care for older people in England. This has not only led to large falls in the number of people over the age of 65 receiving publicly funded social care, but also to growing concern about the potential knock-on effects on ...
Briefing note
Analysis of how council spending on adult social care and other services changed between 2009-10 and 2017-18.
This report provides new estimates of total spending by the government on children in England, including benefits, education spending,services for vulnerable children and healthcare. In the most recent year of data (2017–18), total spending was over £120 billion or over £10,000 per child under ...
Recent IFS work (joint with the Health Foundation) documented the considerable pressures on health and social care spending over the next fifteen years. In the near term, an announced funding settlement for the NHS covering the next few years may be on the horizon.
Book chapter
How much do changes to local government finance in England encourage inclusive growth?
Report summary
Paul Johnson, Elaine Kelly, Tom Lee, George Stoye, Ben Zaranko, Anita Charlesworth, Zoe Firth, Ben Gershlick and Toby Watt
On 5 July this year the NHS will be 70. In all its 70 years it has rarely been far from the headlines. It has been through more than its fair share of reforms, crises and funding ups and downs. Over that period, the amount we spend on it has risen inexorably. Yet, today, concerns about the adequacy ...