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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
In a bid to become the next prime minister, both Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt say they plan to increase the point at which people start paying National Insurance Contributions (NICs). This move would make the UK’s tax system even more different to those in most other developed countries in two ...
Observation
In a new feasibility study, we conclude that it would be possible to implement and evaluate a new programme targeted at very young children in disadvantaged families. We also provide a blueprint for what the programme and evaluation could look like.
Observation
This weekend, on Saturday 6th July, the state pension age rises again, to 65 and 5 months. Naturally, this means that some will have to wait longer to receive their state pension. But it also means that some with low incomes must wait longer to receive ‘Pension Credit’ – a means-tested ...
Observation
Almost all the candidates in the Conservative leadership election have promised higher levels of spending on education. With a Spending Review of some form due this year, we analyse the cost of potential commitments on schools and education spending.
Observation
In this short observation, we set out new research about the recent changes to household incomes, and who has been most affected by the recent slowdown in household income growth.
Observation
Some have claimed that Boris Johnson's tax pledges mean Scots would end up paying for a tax cut for higher earners in the rest of the UK. This is not the case.
Observation
The Augar Review – released yesterday – was wide reaching in its scope. Most importantly, the review suggests an important raft of changes to the further education sector and increases the power and scope of the post-18 education regulator, the Office for Students (as we discussed yesterday ). ...
Observation
The Augar Review of Post-18 education is the first comprehensive review of both the Further Education (FE) and Higher Education (HE) sectors and has been eagerly awaited. This note provides our immediate reaction.
Observation
Inadequate sanitation is a leading cause of poverty in developing countries, largely because it causes premature mortality. But policymakers in Nigeria still struggle to improve sanitation practices despite their importance to national health and poverty eradication strategies.
Observation
Women work for less productive, lower-paying firms than men, our new analysis suggests - which may contribute to the gender pay gap. This difference between the kinds of firms that men and women work for opens up around the time women have children, when many switch to part-time work or start ...
Observation
Automatic enrolment is a key government policy to help employees save privately for their retirement. We find that it substantially increased workplace pension participation among those working for small employers by around 45 percentage points to reach 70% of targeted employees – with most, but ...
Observation
The government has launched a consultation on whether to ban the advertising of food and drink high in fat, salt or sugar on television before the 9pm watershed. But the impact of such restrictions would depend on how firms change their advertising strategies following the ban.
Observation
On 6 March the state pension age for men and women reaches 65 and 3 months. As well as reducing government spending the increases in the female state pension age since 2010 have led to some – but not most – remaining in paid work for longer. Here we provide more detail on what the impact of the ...
Observation
Since 2000, all households containing a person aged 75 or over have been entitled to receive a free TV licence, paid for by the government. From June 2020 onwards, the government will no longer provide the funds for these free TV licences and the BBC therefore has to decide whether to continue to ...
Observation
Pension freedoms gave people much more flexibility over how to use their savings in retirement. But very few now purchase annuities in order to guarantee an income. We find that an important reason could be that people underestimate how long they will live.
Observation
Today Amber Rudd, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, announced that the ‘two-child limit’ in tax credits and Universal Credit will not apply to children born before the policy was implemented in April 2017. This tackles the ‘retrospective’ application of the policy that had ...
Observation
Six years ago today, Child Benefit was first withdrawn from families containing someone whose annual income is above £50,000 a year. This threshold has since remained frozen in cash terms and there remain no plans to change it.
Observation
Funding from local taxes available in the new local government finance system proposed by the government is unlikely to keep pace with rising spending pressures in coming years.
Observation
Jack Britton, Carl Emmerson and Thomas Pope
The Office for National Statistics has announced that it will be revising the treatment of student loans in the public finances. This is a sensible move as it aligns the accounting treatment more closely with economic reality. Even though it makes no difference to the long-run cost of Higher ...
Observation
Following the provisional local government finance settlement for 2019–20, we look at how the funding cuts made over the four years between 2015–16 and 2019–20 are set to vary around the country.