IEA and Vinson Centre Budget Challenge.

The IEA Budget Challenge

Win £1,000 for you and your school!

Your chance to enter a team for a national competition that will help them to learn more about economics, develop their writing, research,  and analytical skills, and give them a better understanding of the policy issues and challenges facing national decision makers.

The Competition

Schools can enter teams of up to a maximum of four people into the competition. Though this year we are allowing multiple entries from each school, no more than one team will be offered a place in the final. Teams put together a submission that will outline a budget with taxation and spending policy for the United Kingdom in the coming financial year, as well as more briefly analysing the macroeconomic conditions and setting out a broad policy and strategy in response to these.

The Submission

Entries should have have three parts:

  • An outline analysis of the macroeconomic conditions and likely outlook for the next two years.

  • An outline of the main economic goals to be pursued and the broad strategy used to realise them.

  • A proposed budget, setting out taxes and other sources of revenue, expected levels of spending by department, and details of expected borrowing (if any).

Entries should be no longer than 5,000 words long. The third element should be roughly 70% (3,500 words) of the total word count with each of the other two elements accounting for 15% (750 words) of the total.

Style Requirements

Entries should include a bibliography and Harvard style referencing. References will count towards the word total but the bibliography will not. The text should be double spaced, on A4 pages, in Arial size 12 font.

How to Enter

The 2021-2 competition is currently closed.


The entries will be reviewed by a panel of internal judges and the top 10 entries will be invited to a competition day either in London or virtually in early March dependent on government guidelines.

On the day the selected teams will have to make the case for their proposals and analysis to a panel of judges and answer questions. After the final the judges will withdraw and decide the winners and runners up. There will then be a reception for all participants and the winners will be announced and the awards made.


The winning team will get a prize of £1,000, this will be divided with £500 pounds going to the school and £500 being shared among the team members. The three next best teams will each receive a runners up prize of £250. All remaining teams that participate in the final will receive a prize of £50.

The entries will be judged on the criteria of knowledge and understanding of the economic issues raised by the challenge, use of resources, the quality and clarity of the argument and analysis presented, the coherence and credibility of the proposed budget, and the degree of originality and insight displayed. They will not be judged on the basis of adherence to a particular perspective regardless of quality or the other considerations set out.

The 2021  Challenge

The IEA is delighted to announce the results of the 2021 Budget Challenge. Team d’Overbroeck’s won the challenge, with Lingfield College, Thornleigh School, and Queen’s Gate School as runners-up.

The IEA’s Education, Outreach, and Programmes Manager, Brittany Davis, said:

“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Budget Challenge had to be held virtually again this year, which added an extra challenge to the finalists. The content of all of the submissions was carefully thought-out and thought provoking. It is good to see serious engagement with issues of public policy by applying their economics studies to national political issues. A massive congratulations to d’Overbroeck’s and all of the teams who made it to the final for their hard work.”

The Budget Challenge is a joint competition between the Institute of Economic Affairs and the Vinson Centre for the Public Understanding of Economics and Entrepreneurship at the University of Buckingham.