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Transfer StateThe Idea of a Guaranteed Income and the Politics of Redistribution in Modern Britain$
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Peter Sloman

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198813262

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198813262.001.0001

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New Labour’s Tax Credits, 1997–2010

New Labour’s Tax Credits, 1997–2010

(p.177) 7 New Labour’s Tax Credits, 1997–2010
Transfer State

Peter Sloman

Oxford University Press

The thirteen years of Labour government between 1997 and 2010 may come to be seen by future historians as the zenith of the British transfer state, when—in contrast to other western countries—the increase in fiscal redistribution which took place during the 1980s and early 1990s was sustained and deepened. Inspired by the Earned Income Tax Credit in the United States, Gordon Brown created a complex system of income-related tax credits, which formed a central part of New Labour’s strategy for ‘making work pay’ and eliminating child poverty. For the first time, the Treasury came to see itself as a social welfare agency, using tax credits and other instruments to achieve explicit distributional objectives. This chapter provides a detailed account of the development of tax credits, and shows how administrative difficulties and tensions between rhetoric and reality hampered Brown’s efforts to build public support for the system.

Keywords:   New Labour, Gordon Brown, tax credits, Earned Income Tax Credit, policy transfer, poverty, redistribution, welfare-to-work

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