• In Focus

    Value added tax (VAT) at 50

    The 50th anniversary of the UK’s value added tax (VAT) occurred on 1 April 2023. VAT was introduced in anticipation of the UK’s entry to the European Economic Community and has since become one of the government’s largest revenue raisers. This article examines the history of VAT and the debate about how it has developed.

  • In Focus

    Climate change-induced migration: UK collaboration with international partners

    Climate change is likely to increase migration flows over the coming decades. Increasingly frequent and severe extreme weather events are expected to increase “forcible displacements”, and the “slow-onset” impacts of climate change are expected to make the hardest hit regions uninhabitable. The UK is involved with several international forums which aim to discuss and cooperate on these issues.

  • In Focus

    The role of nuclear in the UK’s energy supply

    The government has outlined its ambitions to significantly increase the UK’s nuclear power capacity, arguing it is the only reliable energy technology available that is able to provide a baseload level of low-carbon electricity on a large scale. However, such plans have faced criticism, particularly regarding the cost and deliverability challenges associated with large-scale nuclear projects. This article considers the debate around the future of nuclear power ahead of a House of Lords debate on the subject on 7 September 2023.

  • In Focus

    Preparing for climate change

    Climate change is expected to have significant impacts across a range of domestic policy areas. Both the government and the independent Climate Change Committee, a statutory advisory body, agree on the need for significant adaption efforts to mitigate related risks. This summer the government is due to publish the latest edition of its five-yearly national adaption programme. This will detail how it plans to go about addressing climate risks and comes 15 years after the Climate Change Act 2008 became law.

  • Research Briefing

    Finance (No. 2) Bill: HL Bill 149 of 2022–23

    The Finance (No. 2) Bill is a government bill intended to give statutory effect to the tax measures announced in the spring budget 2023, as well as other previously announced policies. These include the introduction of full expensing of capital expenditure on plant and machinery from 2023 to 2026, the abolition of the lifetime allowance of tax relievable pension savings and the freezing of fuel duty rates for 2023/24. The bill was introduced to the House of Lords on 21 June 2023 and its second reading and all remaining stages are due to take place on 4 July 2023.

  • In Focus

    Economic growth, inflation and productivity

    Economic growth is considered important due to the role it plays in providing jobs and improving living standards. But productivity growth, a key driver of higher living standards, has slowed in the UK since 2008. With high inflation now impacting living standards, increased attention is being paid to understanding and tackling the productivity slowdown. The House of Lords is due to debate the UK economy on 29 June 2023.

  • In Focus

    Science and Technology Committee report: ‘‘Science and technology superpower’: More than a slogan?’

    In 2022, the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee conducted an inquiry into the government’s stated ambition to make the UK a “science and technology superpower” by 2030. This briefing provides a summary of the committee’s findings and the government’s response, ahead of a debate in the House of Lords on 7 June 2023.

  • In Focus

    Financial pressures on higher education

    The House of Lords is to debate the financial pressures on higher education on 30 March 2023. This article looks at how the higher education system is funded and the financial challenges it faces. This includes long-term pressures, such as the decreasing real-terms value of tuition fees, and short-term issues linked to the pandemic and cost of living.

  • In Focus

    Spring budget debate: March 2023

    The chancellor of the exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, will deliver a budget on 15 March 2023. This article sets out the economic and fiscal backdrop for the budget, outlining some of the key issues the government is facing.

  • In Focus

    The government’s spending efficiency drive

    In November 2022 the government announced a new review of the efficiency of departmental spending. The government has said that savings from the latest review will allow spending to be focused on priority areas, but some parliamentarians have cautioned that the drive for efficiency savings could lead to counterproductive side effects. This article looks at the reaction to the announcement of the latest review.

  • In Focus

    The situation in Ukraine

    24 February 2023 will mark the anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This article considers the current state of the conflict and its impact on Ukraine, the role of the UK and other allies supporting Ukraine, and how the situation might develop.

  • Research Briefing

    Northern Ireland Budget Bill: HL Bill 94 of 2022–23

    In the absence of functioning devolved institutions the UK government has intervened to set Northern Ireland’s budget. The Northern Ireland Budget Bill provides the relevant authorisations and appropriations for the full 2022/23 financial year and includes provisions to allow public spending to continue into the early months of the 2023/24 financial year. The bill passed has been fast-tracked through the House of Commons and its second reading in the House of Lords is due to take place on 7 February 2022.

  • In Focus

    Cost of living: Impact of rising costs on disabled people

    Disabled individuals and their households have, on average, lower incomes than their non-disabled counterparts. They often incur additional costs related to the treatment and mitigation of their disability. Furthermore, they typically spend a greater share of their income on food and energy, the commodities driving the current surge in inflation. In recognition of Disability History Month—running from 16 November to 16 December this year—this article considers how disabled individuals and their households are impacted by the rising cost of living.

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