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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
New IFS research finds that providing school breakfasts free to all children in disadvantaged English primary schools helps pupils to make two months’ additional progress over the course of a year. These gains seem to be driven by better behaviour and concentration in the classroom, meaning that ...
Observation
Carl Emmerson, Andrew Hood and Tom Waters
This morning the Office for National Statistics announced that inflation, as measured by the CPI, was 0.9% in the year to September. This is only slightly higher than the 0.6% the Office for Budget Responsibility forecast in the March Budget. But since then many forecasters – including the Bank ...
Observation
The results of the latest business rates revaluation reveal a growing divergence in property prices between London and the rest of the country. Increases in the value of non-residential property in the capital are set to raise rates bills by 11%, on average, increasing the tax take by over £700 ...
Observation
Today, the Secretary of State for Education is due to outline proposals that would allow an expansion of grammar schools across England. This could represent a significant shift in the education system in England. As ever there would be costs and benefits to such a change. It does appear that those ...
Observation
Today the Scottish Government released the latest version of Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (GERS) covering 2015–16. In this observation we discuss what we can learn about Scotland’s fiscal position from these figures. The main finding is that further declines in revenues and ...
Observation
Andrew Hood and Robert Joyce
The 2016 Budget included a policy designed to help low-income working families, known as ‘Help to Save’. This observation examines whether the policy is likely to help those who are not currently saving enough and to encourage them to save more, or is instead an opportunity for those who ...
Observation
We set out the empirical results and policy implications of new research, which was undertaken in partnership with Lambeth Council and supported with funding from the ESRC.
Observation
Andrew Hood, Robert Joyce and Jonathan Cribb
Median household income in the UK rose by 3% in 2014–15 after adjusting for inflation. This was the fastest rise in average incomes since the early 2000s, finally taking median income 1% above its previous peak, and was accompanied by income growth right across the distribution. These are the ...
Observation
Jagjit Chadha, Paul Johnson and John Van Reenen
The possible economic consequences of leaving the EU have naturally been a central focus of the referendum campaign. As June 23 draws near we bring together the conclusions from our research on the likely consequences, and reflect on some of the claims made.
Observation
The Great Recession triggered the two largest annual falls in real government receipts since at least 1956. Yet, by the end of the decade, tax receipts as a share of national income are due to return to almost their pre-recession level. But, beneath this apparent stability in the overall tax take, ...
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 ...