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Election 2005

IFS aims to provide independent and authoritative analysis throughout the election campaign of public policy issues related to the parties' proposals and to the record of the Labour government since 1997. This analysis will draw on past and current research across a number of areas.

We will try to answer enquiries relating to this work whenever possible. Press and other enquiries should be directed to Emma Hyman or Bonnie Brimstone.

Recent research findings

Public finances and spending

Since October 2002 IFS has produced monthly bulletins analysing the government's public finance figures. Recent figures make it more likely that the Golden Rule will be met over the current economic cycle. The path of the public finances going forward is of greater direct economic importance. Despite recent favourable corporation tax figures, doubts about the Treasury's medium-term forecasts remain.

See also our analysis of the 2005 Budget and our briefing note, Challenges for the 2004 Spending Review, which looks at the options for spending during the years 2005-06 to 2007-08.


In the Green Budget 2005, we examined the evolution of the level of taxation and government revenues as a share of national income under Labour and the extent to which it is explained by policy decisions and other factors.

Download Green Budget 2005 (chapter 6)

Background reading on the tax system can be found in our briefing note, A survey of the UK tax system and in the note, Long-term trends in British taxation and spending.

Distributional impact of policies

The two successive Labour governments that have been in power since May 1997 have each carried out many reforms to the tax and benefit system in the UK. These have not affected all groups in the population equally. Rather, gains or losses depend on people's income, age an household circumstances. A chapter in the Green Budget 2005 aims to provide a deeper understanding of how tax and benefit reforms since 1997 have affected different groups in the population.

Download Green Budget 2005 (chapter 7)

See recent inequality analysis (Poverty and inequality in Britain: 2005)

For background reading about inequality and income distribution, see our briefing notes, Inequality and living standards in Great Britain: some facts and Inequality under the Labour government. Other work in this area can be found under the project, Ongoing analysis of trends in inequality

Higher Education funding

A recent IFS Commentary analyses the impact of the three parties' HE funding policies on students, graduates, universities and taxpayers.

Download Higher Education funding policy: who wins and who loses?

Further reading about higher education funding can be found in the paper, Fine-tuning the HE reforms and in the briefing note, An analysis of the higher education reforms (January 2004). Further details can be found under the project, Analysis of Higher Education reforms.

Election briefing notes

We plan to publish analysis of the election to cover the topics listed below. Each of these briefing notes will look at Labour's record in the area and at the implications of proposals put forward by Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats.

Briefing notes will be published here when complete. If possible, we will post likely dates of publication in advance. Updates will be made to notes if further information comes to light after publication.

Detailed subject analyses

Public finances 21 April 2005
Public spending 21 April 2005
Taxation 21 April 2005
Tax and benefit changes: winners and losers (1997-2004) 20 April 2005
Tax and benefit changes: winners and losers (parties' manifestos) 28 April 2005; Corrected version [details]
Living standards, inequality and poverty 26 April 2005
Better or worse off? More or less heavily taxed? An assessment of manifesto claims 26 April 2005
Business taxes 25 April 2005
Productivity policy 24 April 2005
Employment and the labour market 22 April 2005
Higher education participation and funding 1 May 2005
Helping families: childcare, early education and the work-life balance 25 April 2005
Pension and saving policy 29 April 2005

Presentation slides

Public finances, spending and taxation 21 April 2005
Proposed tax and benefit reforms: winners and losers 28 April 2005

Newspaper and online articles

30 March 2005, 'The Economy: Electoral battleground', by Robert Chote, Channel 4: FactCheck

Press releases about the parties' proposals

18 Apr 2005 Conservative proposal to increase support for pension saving
13 Apr 2005 Tax and spend: Letter to the Telegraph
16 Mar 2005 Budget analysis 2005
28 Feb 2005 Analysis of Liberal Democrat tax proposals
21 Feb 2005 Analysis of the Conservatives' proposed age-related council tax discount
22 Sep 2004 Analysis of the Liberal Democrats' Citizen's Pension
8 Sep 2004 Conservatives' plans for Higher Education: who gains and who loses?
4 Oct 2003 Conservative proposals for the future of the basic state pension