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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
Increasing attention is being given to the ‘gender pension gap’ – the fact that on average women have lower private pension wealth and lower income in retirement than men.
Observation
A special Issue of Fiscal Studies published today by Wiley on behalf of the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) provides new analysis of the evolution of mortality levels and socio-economic inequalities in 11 OECD countries, including England, over the last 20-30 years.
Observation
While there is still much uncertainty, we now project Scotland’s budget deficit in 2020–21 to have spiked at between 22% and 25% of national income, up from 8.6% of national income in 2019–20, although less than our previous projection. It is also still higher than a forecast deficit of 16% ...
Observation
This morning the ONS published its first estimates of the public finances over the whole of the financial year 2020-21. Borrowing is estimated to have reached £303 billion, or 14.5% of national income. This is £52 billion less than the £355 billion forecast by the Office for Budget ...
Observation
Scottish Labour set out a vision for big expansion of the welfare state - with no sense of how much this would eventually cost or how it would be paid for
Observation
The Scottish Conservatives offer extra spending on the NHS and a range of targeted measures – but an ambition to cut income tax looks unlikely to be realised without cuts to at least some services.
Observation
The SNP’s manifesto offers big gains to a number of targeted groups in Scotland - but would involve difficult trade-offs in a tight budgetary environment.
Observation
Tomorrow marks the 30th anniversary of the property valuations used for council tax rates, meaning that the amount of council tax you pay is dependent upon what your home was worth 30 years ago. This has arbitrary and unfair consequences: two homes that are today worth the same amount can pay ...
Observation
Today, the Department for Work and Pensions released the latest official statistics on household incomes, poverty, and income inequality. This observation looks at the key findings from those statistics.
Observation
The COVID-19 crisis has both created billions of pounds of new costs for and demands on councils’ budgets and has hit many of their sources of income. We find that across the sector as a whole, the government has largely addressed forecast pressures in 2020-21. However, financial pressures have ...