Much of my research has been about, or responding to, policy developments to do with tax credits or welfare reform. I have been a long-time proponent of a simpler and more integrated welfare system, and his work on an integrated benefit system has been acknowledged as having informed current government policy.
My latest project, joint with IFS researchers, used longitudinal data on household incomes to work out the impact of Universal Credit on the distribution of household incomes averaged over 8 years. We found that some of the biggest losers from UC – such as home owners, and those with lots of capital – are more likely than others to be temporarily poor, rather than permanently poor, and this makes the long-run distributional impact quite a lot more benign than the short-run.
When the Labour government proposed replacing WFTC with the child and working tax credits, I provided the first quantitative assessment of how households could win or lose under the government’s plans, and an analysis of
operational issues. As a direct result of this, and subsequent research on tax credits, I was asked to contribute to the Mirrlees review of the tax system, where I assessed the way that the UK’s tax and welfare system affected financial work incentives, and considered how to replace the benefit system with a single welfare programme. This in turn led me to be asked by the Centre for Social Justice to be a technical adviser for their “Dynamic Benefits” project. I shared my knowledge about the economic issues behind work incentives, the tax and welfare system, and how best to model the impact of the changes that they finally recommended. Their report is the inspiration behind the current Universal Credit scheme.
When the UK government first announced its plans, I provided the first quantitative assessment of how households would win or lose under the proposed Universal Credit reform, and how it would affect measures of work incentives. This work, updated in projects commissioned by the Low Pay Commission and Gingerbread, led me to be invited to work with the Resolution Foundation on a project analysing how Universal Credit could be reformed so it could better meet its objectives. The final report, published by the Resolution Foundation in Spring 2015, has been cited widely; some of its recommendations were echoed by the Social Security Advisory Committee later in 2015. I worked again with the Resolution Foundation in 2017 to update some of that work.
(2019) “Universal credit and its impact on household incomes: the long and the short of it”, here (with R. Joyce, T. Waters and J. Woods).
(2017) “Universal Remedy: ensuring Universal Credit is fit for purpose”, London: Resolution Foundation, here (with D. Finch and D. Tomlinson).
(2015) “Making the most of UC: Final report of the Resolution Foundation review
of Universal Credit” (chaired by V. Alakeson and N. Timmins),
(2015) “Credit where it’s due: assessing the benefits and risks of Universal Credit.” Interim report of the Resolution Foundation expert panel review of Universal Credit, http://www.resolutionfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Universal-Credit-interim-report1.pdf (with V.Alakeson and D.Finch), here.
(2012) “Universal Credit: A Preliminary Analysis of Its Impact on Incomes and Work Incentives”, Fiscal Studies, 33, (with Browne, J. and Jin, W.), doi:10.1111/j.1475-5890.2012.00152.x
(2010) “Means-testing and tax rates on earnings” in Dimensions of Tax Design: the Mirrlees Review, OUP (with A. Shephard & E. Saez), here.