for the public understanding of economics and entrepreneurship

IEA and Vinson Centre 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 there can be multiple entries from each school, no more than one team will be offered a place in the semi-final or 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 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

All entries to the competition should be submitted and in our inbox by 23.59.59 on Friday 26th January 2024. We will not accept late entries. They should be submitted in PDF form and will not be considered in hard copy. Submissions should be sent to The names of the school and of the team members should be clearly indicated on the front cover sheet along with contact details for the school and emails for each team member.


The entries will be reviewed by a panel of judges, and the top entries will be invited to semi-finals at the Vinson Centre at the University of Buckingham in February 2024. The top participants from the semi-finals will then be invited to the final at the Institute of Economic Affairs in London in March 2024.

The selected teams will have 10 minutes to make the case for their proposals and analysis to a panel of judges and answer questions.


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.

2023 Winners

The 2023 competition was won by King Edward VI Grammar School. North London Collegiate School, St Paul’s Boys’ School, and Altrincham Grammar School for Boys were the three runners-up. Congratulations to all who participated!