IFS Zooms In: The Economy
The Expert Factor: What is Britain’s place in the world?
Some politicians are keen to talk up global Britain. Others boast that the UK is world leader in, well, just about everything. But some say this is a country in non-stop decline. So what’s the true story?
This week the Expert Factor team take a deep dive into Britain’s place in the world. How do other countries view the UK after a tumultuous time in Westminster? What is the state of the UK’s post-pandemic economy compared to other countries? Just how special is the ‘special’ relationship with the US? And what is the true story about what Brexit has meant for the UK? Hannah White, Paul Johnson and Anand Menon ask the tricky questions – and come up with the expert answers.
A general election is looming. Manifestos are being drafted. The battle of ideas is intensifying. From tackling climate change to turning around the economy, rethinking Britain’s place in the world to restoring trust in politics, the UK is facing huge challenges. So how can we make sense of it all?
THE EXPERT FACTOR is the podcast for people who haven’t had enough of experts. Each week we the directors of three leading and respected think tanks – Paul Johnson of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, Hannah White of the Institute for Government, and Anand Menon of UK in a Changing Europe – get together to discuss, debate and explain the big questions and themes that will shape the election – and the political landscape for years to come.
• Institute Fiscal Studies: https://ifs.org.uk/
• Institute for Government: https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/
• UK in a Changing Europe: https://ukandeu.ac.uk/
Written and presented by Paul Johnson, Hannah White and Anand Menon. Audio production by Alex Rees for Podmasters.
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4. The NHS waiting list: when will it come down?38:17Since the pandemic, the size the NHS waiting list has been in the headlines almost constantly. At the start of 2023, Rishi Sunak committed to decreasing the size of the waiting list as one of his ‘five priorities’, and since then it has actually gone up. So today, we’re going to dive into the NHS waiting list - what is it? How big is it? And is there a credible plan to get it back down?Joining us to answer those questions are Ben Zaranko and Max Warner, IFS economists who have recently published a report on the NHS waiting list.Find out more: https://ifs.org.uk/Become a member: https://ifs.org.uk/individual-membership
3. Are councils in crisis?39:05Over recent months, you may have seen local authorities warning that they are facing a funding crisis. Since 2021, six local authorities have declared themselves effectively bankrupt, and many other local authorities have reported that they may soon be forced to do the same.How did we end up here? Why are local councils facing funding pressures? And what can government do to help them?Joining us to answer these questions are Tony Travers, a professor in the Department of Government at LSE and expert on local government, and David Phillips, Head of Devolved and Local Government Finance at IFS. Find out more: https://ifs.org.uk/Become a member: https://ifs.org.uk/individual-membership
2. How to fix our irrational income tax system40:38Income tax and National Insurance Contributions are our biggest taxes. Together they raise almost half of all tax revenues. National Insurance Contributions were cut at the start of the year, but we’re in the middle of a multi-year freeze in tax thresholds that will amount to a tax rise of over £40 billion by the time it’s finished. And these are just the latest in a string of changes in how we tax personal incomes.From cliff edges and personal allowances, to Scotland's 6-band income tax system and The Beatles' scheme to minimise their tax, we cover all things income tax.To do that, we're joined by Helen Miller, Deputy Director at IFS and head of our tax sector, and Dan Neidle, a tax lawyer and founder of Tax Policy Associates.Find out more: https://ifs.org.uk/Become a member: https://ifs.org.uk/individual-membership
1. The economic stories that will shape 202432:33As we enter the new year, we take a look-ahead at what to expect in 2024.What will happen with the cost of living crisis? What might the Chancellor announce in his Spring Budget? What should we be looking out for during an election?This week, Paul is joined by colleagues Ben Zaranko, Helen Miller and Carl Emmerson to take a look at the stories which will define 2024.Find out more: https://ifs.org.uk/Become a member: https://ifs.org.uk/individual-membership
30. The future of the state pension35:26With an ageing population, the UK faces a series of significant challenges with regard to its state pension. The OBR estimates that spending on the state pension, pension credit and winter fuel payment is expected to rise by 1.2% of national income (£32 billion per year in today’s terms) by 2050.How does the state pension work? What are the problems with it? And how can we reform it to work more effectively?In our final episode of the year, Paul is joined by Jonathan Cribb, Associate Director at IFS and Head of the Retirement, Savings, and Ageing sector, and Baroness Ros Altmann, a life peer, pensions expert and former Pensions Minister.Find out more: https://ifs.org.uk/Become a member: https://ifs.org.uk/individual-membership
29. Why we need to reform inheritance tax38:45Inheritance tax is arguably the UK’s most unpopular tax - a recent YouGov poll found that just 20% of people deemed inheritance tax ‘fair’. Yet most people are unaffected by it - only a minority of estates currently pay inheritance tax. In this episode, Paul Johnson is joined by Arun Advani and David Sturrock to discuss the intricacies of inheritance tax. They cover the inequality inherent in the current system, the distortion of economic incentives resulting from exemptions, the small percentage of estates that actually pay the tax, and how it affects to social mobility. Find out more: https://ifs.org.uk/Become a member: https://ifs.org.uk/individual-membership
28. The Autumn Statement explained30:53This week, the Chancellor delivered his Autumn Statement. After weeks of speculation about headroom, tax cuts and pre-election giveaways, the dye is cast and the policies are in.What was in it? What will the impact of his announcements be? And how sensible were the policies announced?Joining us today are Helen Miller, Head of Tax at IFS, Ben Zaranko, Senior Research economist and Tom Waters, Senior Research economist at IFS.Find out more: https://ifs.org.uk/Become a member: https://ifs.org.uk/individual-membership
27. Cake or biscuit? The UK's byzantine VAT system explained33:45From jaffa cakes and gingerbread men, to fur skin coats and children's clothes, our VAT system and its byzantine rules seem, on the surface, to be a fun quirk of the UK tax system.But dig deeper, and one finds economic distortions and inefficiencies due to the complex way the UK's third largest tax is levied.Leading us through this maze of complexity are Helen Miller, Deputy Director and IFS tax expert, and Dan Neidle, a tax lawyer and founder of Tax Policy Associates.
26. The Expert Factor: What next for Net Zero?33:34Climate change used to be that rarest of things in British politics – an issue over which there was broad interparty consensus. That consensus saw Ed Miliband oversee the passing of the Climate Change Act in 2008, committing the UK to an 80 % reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050; Theresa May enshrining of the target of net zero in law; and Boris Johnson going further still, increasing the target for 2030 reductions to 68%.But recently we have seen a divergence from this consensus, with Rishi Sunak pushing back the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in the UK from 2030 to 2035.In this episode, the Experts team drill down into this changing landscape. What do voters think about Sunak’s changes? How is Labour going to respond? What are the key steps to achieving net zero? And what are the economic costs involved?