Government spending in the United Kingdom

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Pie chart of UK central government expenditure, 2016–17. Debt interest is shown in dark green. Social protection includes pensions and welfare.[1]

Central government spending in the United Kingdom, also called public expenditure, is the responsibility of the UK government, the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government and the Northern Ireland Executive. In the budget for financial year 2016–17 , proposed total government spending was £772 billion.[1]

Spending per head is significantly higher in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland than it is in England.[2]

Scotland has historically collected more tax per person than has the rest of the UK, although following a decline in the oil price in 2014, Scotland produced slightly less revenue than England per capita in 2014–15.[3][4] As of 2014 and the release of the GERS report, Scotland had a higher deficit relative to the UK deficit as a whole and received an increased net subsidy from UK government borrowing, this deficit was attributed to declining oil revenues as the price of crude oil has fallen. This condition is predicted to only get worse should oil revenues fall further.[5][6]

Department 2016–17 Expenditure (£bn)[1]
Social protection 240
Health 145
Education 102
Debt interest 39
Defence 46
Public order and safety 34
Personal social services 30
Housing and environment 34
Transport 29
Industry, agriculture and employment 24
Other 49
Total Government spending 772

The graph shows spending by sector with prices adjusted for inflation. ‘Other expenditure’ includes general public services (£22bn in 2013/14), housing and community amenities (£12bn), environment protection (£12bn), recreation, culture and religion (£12bn). Accounting adjustments of £46 in 2013/14 have not been included. The spikes in 'economic affairs' and 'debt interest' were due to the financial sector interventions in the banking collapse of 2008.[7]

Local government spending[edit]

Local government spending is the responsibility of local authorities, under the supervision of the respective national governments:

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b c "UK 2016 Budget" (PDF). p. 5.
  2. ^ Daily Telegraph (30 August 2011). "Government spending gap between England and Scotland widens". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 30 August 2011.
  3. ^ Scottish Government. "Scotland generates more in tax than rest of the UK". Retrieved 9 October 2013.
  4. ^ "A disaggregation of HMRC tax receipts between England, Wales, Scotland & Northern Ireland" (PDF). 1 October 2015. p. 12. Retrieved 28 December 2015.
  5. ^ "Government Expenditure & Revenue Scotland 2012–13".
  6. ^
  7. ^ HM Treasury (30 April 2015). "Public Spending Statistics release: April 2015". p. 21. Retrieved 26 June 2015.