Our goal at the Institute for Fiscal Studies is to promote effective economic and social policies by better understanding how policies affect individuals, families, businesses and the government's finances.

Subjective expectations of survival and economic behaviour

As individuals are given more control over saving for retirement and use of pension wealth, their ability to plan for the future is increasingly important. In a new report, IFS researchers investigate individual survival expectations and their relation to health, wealth and other individual circumstances. Comparing subjective (reported) expectations of survival with official (ONS) life table survival rates, researchers reveal large and systematic biases in individuals’ expectations.

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100% business rate retention pilots: what can be learnt and at what cost?

The business rates retention scheme means that councils bear a proportion of the real-terms change in business rates revenues in their areas. Since April 2017, the government has been piloting 100% retention of real-terms changes in business rates revenues in a number of areas of England. In this briefing note researchers examine two questions: what are the financial implications of the pilots for different councils and what can be learnt from them?

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Centre for the Microeconomic Analysis of Public Policy at IFS given official ESRC "Research Institute" status

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) has recognised the Centre for the Microeconomic Analysis of Public Policy (CPP) as a global centre of excellence and has awarded it official ESRC Research Institute status. "Research Institute" status acknowledges centres which have demonstrated sustained strategic value to the Council, as well as to the broader social science research landscape.

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Scottish income tax diverges further from rest of UK to raise more from high earners

For the new 2018–19 tax year, the Scottish higher-rate threshold has fallen further behind that in the UK, and two new income tax bands have been added in Scotland while the higher- and additional-rates have been increased. While most Scots will be either unaffected or pay slightly less in tax, overall the change will raise revenue as a result of higher earners paying more. This observation argues that while these changes represent small tweaks to the system rather than a major overhaul, differences between the Scottish and UK income tax systems could have significant implications for taxpayer behaviour going forward.

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Will paying more for alcohol and fizzy drinks make us healthier?

An anti-obesity drive is about to see a tax introduced on sugary drinks across the UK, while Scotland is set to impose a minimum price on alcohol to target problem drinking. But does making unhealthy products more expensive persuade people to make "better" choices? And what are the trade-offs associated with doing so?

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Free school meals under universal credit

The government has finally confirmed how it plans to assess eligibility for free school meals under universal credit – awarding them to families on universal credit with net earnings under £7,400 a year. New IFS research finds that slightly more children will be eligible overall, but one in eight who would have qualified under the previous system will be ineligible.

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More into workplace pensions: minimum default pension contributions rise for most employees and their employers

From tomorrow, a large proportion of private sector employees will pay more into their pensions – and their employers will have to contribute more too. This is the first of two planned steps in the next two years that will increase the minimum contributions that most employees and their employers will, by default, make to a workplace pension. This is all part of the government’s automatic enrolment policy aimed at increasing retirement saving.

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