Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 1
  • Cited by
    This article has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Faith, Rosamond Davis, James Paul, Helen Murphy, Anne L. Crook, Tom Velkar, Aashish and Godden, Chris 2013. Review of periodical literature published in 2011. The Economic History Review, Vol. 66, Issue. 1, p. 297.


Why Was a Wealth Tax for the UK Abandoned? Lessons for the Policy Process and Tackling Wealth Inequality

  • DOI:
  • Published online: 03 October 2011

The distribution of wealth is widening in many countries and with it the growing importance of inherited wealth. In 1974, a Labour Government came to power in the United Kingdom committed to introducing an annual wealth tax. It left office without doing so. Using the official archives of the time and those of a key advisor this paper traces both the origins of the policy and its fate at the hands of the civil service. It explores two related questions. What does this experience tell us about the role of the civil service in the policy process in the UK and what lessons might be learned by those wishing to tackle the issue of widening wealth disparities today?

Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

A. B. Atkinson (1972), Unequal Shares: Wealth in Britain, Harmondsworth: Penguin.

P. Bachrach and M. S. Baratz (1970), Power and Poverty: Theory and Practice, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

B. Castle (1980), The Castle Diaries 1974–6, London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson.

N. Deakin and R. Parry (2000), The Treasury and Social Policy: The Contest for Control of Welfare Strategy, London: Macmillan.

J. F. Due (1960), ‘Net worth taxation’, Public Finance, 40: 310–21.

N. Ellison (1994), Egalitarian Thought and Labour Politics, London: Routledge.

C. Feinstein (1996), ‘The equalising of wealth in Britain since the Second World War’, Oxford Review of Economic Policy, 12: 1, 96105.

M. J. Graetz and I. Shapiro (2005), Death by a Thousand Cuts: The Fight over Taxing Inherited Wealth, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

P. Hall (1993), ‘Policy paradigms, social learning and the state: the case of economic policy making in Britain’, Comparative Politics, 25: 3, 319–42.

J. Harris (1977), William Beveridge: A Biography, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

HMSO (1974), Wealth Tax, Cmnd 5704, London: HMSO.

K. Joseph (1976), Stranded on the Middle Ground: Reflections on Circumstances and Policies, London: Centre for Policy Studies.

Labour Party (1974), Let Us Work Together– Labour's Way Out of the Crisis, London: The Labour Party.

P. Levin (1997), Making Social Policy: The Mechanisms of Government and Politics and How to Investigate Them, Buckingham: Open University Press.

R. Lowe (1989), ‘Resignation at the Treasury: the Social Services Committee and the failure to reform the Welfare State 1955–7’, Journal of Social Policy, 18: 4, 505–26.

R. Lowe (1997), ‘Milestone or millstone: the 1959–61 Plowden Committee and its impact on British welfare policy’, Historical Journal, 40: 2, 463–91.

S. Lukes (1974), Power: A Radical View, London: Macmillan (second edition 2005).

P. Mandler (1997), The Fall and Rise of the Stately Home, London and New Haven: Yale University Press.

OECD (2010), Revenue Statistics, Paris: OECD.

T. Piketty (2011), ‘On the long-run evolution of inheritance: France 1820–2050’, Quarterly Journal of Economics, 126: 3 (forthcoming).

J. Roine and D. Waldestrom (2009), ‘Wealth concentration over the path of development: Sweden 1873–2006’, Scandinavian Journal of Economics, 111: 1, 151–87.

C. Thain and M. Wright (1995), The Treasury and Whitehall: The Planning and Control of Public Expenditure 1976–1993, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

D. Wass (2008), Decline to Fall: The Making of British Macro-economic Policy and the 1976 IMF Crisis, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of Social Policy
  • ISSN: 0047-2794
  • EISSN: 1469-7823
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-social-policy
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *