Challenging assumptions about public attitudes to inheritance


The value of inheritances in the UK has grown significantly in recent decades. Over time, this is likely to lead to increased inequality and reduced social mobility. Demos is undertaking a programme of research to gain greater understanding of public attitudes to inheritance, and build a coalition for reform. The reports from this project are free to download below. 

Winning the Argument - how to unlock public support for inheritance tax (September 2023)

Demos finds there is support for keeping inheritance taxes cross the spectrum of public opinion when voters are given the opportunity to deliberate and engage in more in-depth conversations about the policy.

This report identifies four distinct attitudinal groups in the population regarding inheritance tax. Demos find that, while there are disagreements and concerns about inheritance taxation, politicians, campaigners and advocates can win the public over on taxing inheritances if they put forward the right arguments, framings and reforms. This report shows them how to do so.

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The Inheritance Tax Puzzle - public attitudes to inheritance tax (June 2023)

This report is based on a nationally representative survey of over 2,000 people - the most in-depth survey to date on attitudes to specific inheritances and how people explain their views. It explores people’s attitudes to inheritances and inheritance tax, and identified a profoundly nuanced and complex picture of public attitudes to inherited wealth.

The research found that whilst the public does express initial opposition to taxing inheritances, when presented with specific inheritances - such as certain amounts of money or types of asset - the public are much more supportive of taxes.

People’s attitudes are also shaped by their own expectations of how much they will leave in inheritance. For example, those expecting to give over £200,000 in inheritance typically think that the threshold should be 10 times higher than those expecting to give between £1,000 and £5,000. Equally, homeowners typically think the threshold should be five times higher than renters.

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Lost ideals - Conservative attitudes to inheritance tax (July 2023)

Some Conservatives are proposing that the Conservatives should cut or abolish inheritance tax. Others want to see inheritance tax maintained at current levels. Central to this policy uncertainty is a lack of clarity about the purpose of inheritance which this paper seeks to respond to. What is the role of inheritance in today’s Britain? What are we trying to achieve? What is the tax and policy environment that can help us build a better future?

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Nothing to fear - Labour attitudes to inheritance tax (October 2023)

With Labour’s attention turning to planning for a potential time in government, the party needs a plan for how it is going to engage with inheritances. In this report, Demos suggests an approach for the party in the short, medium and long term.

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