Fiscal Liberalisation: Winning entry of the IEA Breakthrough Prize


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Winning essay for the IEA Richard Koch Breakthrough Prize
Winner of £50,000 prize: Mark Feldner and Mathew Bonnon

For more information about the IEA Breakthrough Prize please visit


  • Free-market principles are about more than commerce alone. Competition, accountability and choice, the major pillars of economic liberalism, can equally be applied to our political system.

  • We outline a radical vision of regional tax competition, based on the devolution of significant tax powers to sub-national bodies.

  • By decentralising fiscal policy, regions and cities would be strengthened and governance improved. Competition between regions would create a marketplace in taxation, which would lead to efficiency gains and lower average tax rates.

  • Most importantly, a radical policy of fiscal liberalisation would empower workers and jobseekers in underperforming regions.

  • Through locally determined taxes, regions and cities would be able to develop their own competitive advantage, thereby attracting companies and talent.

  • The arguments in this essay, which are supported by extensive empirical evidence, present the next transformative step in the history of ideas: a freemarket revolution with no one left behind.

Mark Feldner and Mathew Bonnon

Mark Feldner is a recent graduate with degrees in Law (BA, Cambridge) and Political Theory (MSc, LSE). He has gained work experience at several commercial law firms and has worked for the Cato Institute in Washington, DC as well as for the Austrian Trade Commission in London. Mathew Bonnon is in his final year studying Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Cambridge. He has recently returned from his year abroad in Japan, where he studied at Doshisha University in Kyoto. Mathew has gained professional experience in law and consulting and has worked in various countries, including Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and Germany. Their submission focuses on local tax freedom.

The Breakthrough Prize’s supporter Sir Richard Koch wrote in City AM prior to the announcement of the prize winner. Jeremy Browne, a member of the judging panel, also wrote for The Telegraph.

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Highly Commended Prizes of £2,500:

Dr Syed Kamall MEP

Syed was elected as the leader of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group, the third largest of 8 political groups in the European Parliament, in June 2014. He has represented London in the Parliament since 2005. Syed was born and grew up in London. He is married with two children at London schools. His policy idea relates to ‘friendly lending’.

Download Friendly Lending

Professor James Tooley

James is professor of education policy at Newcastle University.  He is the author of The Beautiful Tree (Penguin), winner of the 2010 Sir Antony Fisher Memorial Prize, based on his ground-breaking research on low-cost private education. This research was awarded the gold prize in the first International Finance Corporation/Financial Times Private Sector Development Competition, and was profiled in an American PBS documentary alongside the work of Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus. Building on his research, Tooley has dedicated himself to creating models of innovative practice in low-cost private education. His policy idea is a chain of low cost private schools.

Download A Chain of Low-Cost Private Schools for the UK

Ben Clements

Ben recently graduated from the University of Manchester after reading for a degree in Chinese and Japanese, with honours being placed in the First Class. Since completing his studies in the summer of 2016, Ben undertook a four-month scholarship placement as a scholar for the British Council as part of their Generation UK China campaign in the Chinese city of Tianjin to further enhance his Mandarin Chinese studies. He was also a finalist of the IEA’s pioneering Brexit Prize competition in 2014. His policy idea is ensuring ‘every child counts’.

Download Every Child Counts

Student Prize Winner of £2,500:

 Ryan Khurana

Ryan is a final year Politics, Philosophy, and Economics student at the University of Manchester. He is a member of the European Students for Liberty and has contributed to various student papers on topics such as Health Economics, Foreign Policy, Inequality and Poverty issues, and Political Discourse. His policy idea is related to a ‘freedom of housing act’.

Download Towards Freer Housing