Research papers

Save to spend

Executive summary The need to balance the government’s books in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic can only mean one of two fiscal policies: spending restraint or tax rises. A significantly weakened economy and the fact that recent increases in the tax burden have already created the highest burden in... Read more...

University Rich List 2020

Introduction Student loan debt ballooned to £140 billion at the end of March 2020. The government forecasts that this will reach £560 billion by the middle of this century. Combined with the fact that the government also predicts that only 25 per cent of current full-time undergraduate students who take... Read more...

Points-based public appointments

Foreword by Douglas Carswell   Do you ever get the feeling that it doesn’t really matter who you vote for because the same sort of people end up in charge? Does it sometimes feel as if key positions in public life always go to the same kind of well-connected quangocrats?Often... Read more...

Kicked into the long grass: the cost of public inquiries

Introduction Public inquiries are a way to scrutinise serious events that have occurred and hold people and organisations to account on a large range of issues. While important in certain circumstances, inquiries are sometimes seen as a way for politicians to avoid tricky issues. Public inquiries have become common in... Read more...

Briefing: changes to duty free shopping in January 2021

Overview: The government announced in September 2020 that from January 2021, duty free purchases will be extended to British passengers travelling to EU countries. However, tax-free sales in airports of some goods – such as electronics and clothing – will end for passengers travelling to non-EU countries. Such a change... Read more...

An analysis of OECD statistics on health expenditure and financing

IntroductionThe Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) annually publishes comparative health expenditure and financing statistics for member nations. Expressed in monetary terms and as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) or healthcare expenditure, they are often referenced when comparing the performance and medical outcomes of different international healthcare... Read more...

Members of the board 2020

IntroductionQuasi-autonomous non-governmental organisations (quangos) are a mixture of executive agencies, non-departmental public bodies and public corporations which hold significant responsibilities over areas of policy that affect taxpayers in their everyday lives. Last year, they cost a total of £206 billion.[1] Their authority ranges from bodies which provide expert advice to... Read more...

BBC Rich List 2020

Introduction The BBC has held a privileged role in the British television, radio and online landscape over many years, dominating the media environment. While alternative media platforms provide content that the public is willing to optionally pay for, the BBC enjoys a taxpayer-funded guarantee which shields them from competitive pressure.... Read more...

Public Sector Trade Union Rich List 2020

Introduction Membership of trade unions, for both public and private sector workers, has been declining for many years: 23.5 per cent were members in 2019. In the public sector, it is at the second lowest level since records began in 1995, at 52.3 per cent. Most male public sector employees... Read more...

Local authority commercial property investments

Executive summary From 2016-17 to 2018-19, councils in England spent £6.6 billion on commercial property, 80 per cent of which is accounted for by just 49 local authorities, predominantly in the South East.[1] Since 2010-11, the amount spent on commercial properties by councils has increased from £53 million to £2.2... Read more...

Keeping track: independent oversight of High Speed 2

Executive Summary High Speed 2 (HS2) should have been scrapped, but with it now proceeding, discipline must be restored to the project. The final bill for Europe’s largest infrastructure project could be £150 billion. In announcing the decision to proceed with HS2 to the House of Commons, the prime minister... Read more...

Briefing: HM Treasury proposals for an online sales tax

Overview: HM Treasury is reportedly considering introducing an online sales tax. Two models are being considered. The first would introduce a 2 per cent levy on goods sold online and is expected to raise £2 billion. The second would be a mandatory charge on consumer deliveries for products purchased online.[1]... Read more...

War on Waste: Long lost tech

Introduction Electronic devices have become an essential part of home and work life in the 21st century, with government departments commonly supplying them in workspaces and to civil servants. But despite their growing importance, large amounts of these devices continue to go unused. With government net borrowing of £46.1 billion... Read more...

Analysis of raising the stamp duty threshold

Introduction Today the chancellor announced that the stamp duty land tax (SDLT) threshold for residential properties will be increased from £125,000 to £500,000. SDLT is levied on property transactions above a threshold and introduces another charge on homeowners to the already costly process of moving. That means that for some... Read more...

Scores of red tape: 20 reforms to unleash growth after coronavirus

Executive summary Coronavirus is the most significant new health emergency in a lifetime. But its economic fallout could dwarf the great recession. To maximise the chances of bouncing back, the government should pledge that there will be no austerity for taxpayers and deliver a package of tax and regulatory reforms... Read more...

War on Waste: Civil service perks

Introduction This research reveals the cost of civil service benefits to the taxpayer, focusing on canteen subsidy, cycling subsidy and rollover holiday which together accrued a total value of at least £7,610,578 between 2014-2015 and 2018-2019. Many private sector roles do not offer these perks, yet taxpayers are forced to... Read more...

City Hall Rich List 2020

Introduction Scrutinising staffing costs at local and national level is a hallmark of our mission to make government more accountable to taxpayers. This principle underpins our annual Town Hall Rich List, which details remuneration of the highest paid people across local government.[1] It should also apply to municipal government.  The... Read more...

Tax reforms to secure a recovery from coronavirus

Coronavirus is the most significant new health emergency in a lifetime. But its economic fallout could dwarf the great recession. To maximise the chances of bouncing back, the government should pledge that there will be no austerity for taxpayers but instead a package of reforms to sharpen the supply side... Read more...

Briefing: Free Trade and the Agriculture Bill 2019-21

In recent decades, global food trade has liberalised substantially. According to the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs, Britain imports 47 per cent of its food, 19 per cent coming from outside the European Union. This means that, no matter the time of year, most products can be sourced... Read more...

Mod cons for dons

Introduction When representing their universities, vice-chancellors are sometimes required to attend external functions and meetings related to their role. But such activities do not necessitate the leasing or buying of high-end vehicles to transfer around university leaders on campuses or elsewhere. Most business leaders or heads of large organisations use... Read more...

War on Waste: Woke Whitehall

Introduction Wasting taxpayers’ money on ‘woke’ campaigns is not a new phenomena, with civil servants in the past being sent on diversity training at a cost of £2,000 per person, including ‘awareness workshops’.[1] But mandarins should take great care not to let the pursuit of sensitive social justice causes see... Read more...

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