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The UK is now a high-tax state – we’d better get used to it

Editorial: These are the new economic facts of life. They will have to be faced, no matter which party is in power

Friday 18 November 2022 21:30 GMT
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What the additional analysis from the IFS reveals is just how significant the autumn statement is
What the additional analysis from the IFS reveals is just how significant the autumn statement is (Reuters)

As ever, independent economic research body the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has told us the kind of truths about this week’s “fiscal event” that chancellors usually don’t get round to in their speeches – the kind that get buried in the official documents, if they are mentioned at all.

We did already know, to be fair to Jeremy Hunt, that British families face what IFS director Paul Johnson describes as a “long, hard, unpleasant journey”. We were also aware that middle Britain is facing quite a shock in the coming months – surely an unpromising start to the Conservatives’ attempt to win a fifth term in office. Some things cannot be disguised, after all.

What the additional analysis from the IFS reveals is just how significant the autumn statement is. For it crystallises, as never before, the fiscal impact of the momentous events of recent years: Brexit, the pandemic, and the war in Ukraine. It shows that the size, and shape, of the British state is now very different from how we were used to it being before, say, the EU referendum of 2016 – and that this state of affairs will persist for decades to come.

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