For the year ending in March 2017:
Total UK public spending, including central government and local authorities, is estimated at £784.1 billion.
This page shows the current trends in UK national spending. Also see charts on UK spending history.
Chart S.01t: Recent Public Spending
Chart S.02t: Recent Public Spending as Pct GDP
Total UK public spending, central government and local authority, was increasing briskly, year on year, in the mid 2000s from about £400 billion in 2005 to £700 billion in the depths of the recession of 2009. But since the end of the recession total public spending has leveled out at a little over £700 billion per year.
Viewed from a GDP perspective, total public spending was steady at about 40 percent GDP in the mid 2000s and then jumped, in the recession, to over 45 percent GDP in 2009. But in the subsequent economic recovery total government spending has stead declined as a percent of GDP down to about 41 percent GDP in 2015.
UK Public Spending Since 1900
Chart S.03t: Total Spending as Percent GDP
UK public spending at the start of the 20th century was less than 15 percent of GDP, but jogged up a bit to pay for the Boer War.
Public spending vaulted to over 56 percent of GDP in World War I, and then settled down to 30 percent of GDP in the 1920s and 1930s.
Defence spending in World War II drove overall public spending over 60 percent of GDP, peaking at 70 percent of GDP in 1945 before declining to 36 percent of GDP by 1949. After a slight blip for the Korean War public spending in the 1950s showed steady spending at about 35 percent of GDP.
The 1960s showed a steady increase in public spending, reaching 42 percent GDP in 1969. The 1970s reflected the Stop-Go policies of both Labour and Conservatives, fluctuating between 41 and 48 percent of GDP.
In the 1980s public spending rose initially to over 45 percent GDP with the recession and the Falklands War, before starting a decline that bottomed out at 35 percent GDP in 2000. Public spending expanded up to 40 percent GDP by 2008 and then popped up to 45 percent in the recession after the financial crisis of 2008-09.
See DEFENCE SPENDING.
Check OVERALL EXPENDITURE.
See CHART GALLERY of spending.
See REGIONAL SPENDING for London etc.
See PIE CHARTS here.
Make your own CUSTOM CHART.
Expenditure data since 1983 comes from HM Treasury’s Public Expenditure Statistical Analysis reports.
Detailed table of spending data sources here.
Gross Domestic Product data comes from measuringworth.com.
Central government spending data begins in 1692.
Local authority spending data begins in 1868.
Sources for 2013:
Sources for 2020:
Get spending chart.
Download spending table.
Download spending data series.
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