This is a tool to help you explore where, and on what, money was spent by the UK government between 2008 (financial year 2007/08) and 2019 (financial year 2018/19). The best way to learn how to use it is to try changing things and then look at the maps and graphs at the bottom.
Which years do you want the data to cover?
Which types of government spending do you want to explore?
Which areas would you like to include?
How do you want the spending presented?
All spending takes inflation into account and is expressed in constant 2015 £s.
How this tool works and FAQs.
Why have you built this tool?
This tool is part of a larger project with The Joseph Rowntree Foundation to improve visibility of data on funding for local growth. Our initial workshops and discussions showed us that definitions of funding for local growth varied substantially between people and interest groups. We also found that few people knew where to find, how to access, and how to explore the existing data on government funding. So we built this tool and others to help people understand what money was being spent on local growth, however they choose to define it.
I want to see more detail!
The UK government does not publish detailed spending data at smaller geographies than this or in more detail at the same geographies than this. You may want to look at the ESPRESSO tool developed by Greater Manchester Combined Authority which looks at both tax raising and public spending data at the local authority level and track its development.
Where is the data from?
This data is collated by us based on CRA and PESA tables from HMT. This means that we include subfunctional spending data that the ONS do not. Our code is open source and available to all at GitHub. Any suggestions and improvements are very welcome!
Don't the Treasury warn against combining PESA and CRA databases from different years?
They do! But since the ONS do it for their fiscal analysis and seem to do it safely we think it's safe to do it in more detail. By carefully checking that our more detailed data aligns with the ONS' less detailed data we think we're being safe, but please let us know if you spot any big mistakes.
How do you deal with inflation?
All figures are expressed in constant 2015£s, deflated using the ONS CPI deflator.
You've added extra regions, why?
One of the most common bits of feedback we got on our tool was that it wasn't fair to consider London on its own when the city interacts so closely with surrounding regions. For example, investment in Crossrail benefits East England and South East England too. So we created a Greater South East England region. Other people told us that they wanted to compare spending in North England as a whole, and the Midlands as a whole, so we created those extra regions too.
What’s the difference between capital and current spending?
The UN publish definitions of how spending should be split into capital and current, and into functions. These are published in the Classification of the Functions of Government (COFOG).
Put simply, building a new motorway is capital spending because it generates a fixed asset, while paying teacher salaries is current spending because it does not. Other spending is less obvious and UK government’s self-imposed fiscal rules incentive is not strictly defined. So there is nothing stopping a Chancellor from saying that human capital is a form of capital and therefore that spending on teacher salaries is an investment in capital. But the official Treasury figures will not reflect this, and will continue to use the UN definitions. Current and capital splits in spending are not clear-cut and decisions about how different types of spending are classified change over time.
How is the region of spending assigned?
In this tool you will also only see identifiable spending (where the Treasury are able to define a location of spend and benefit from that spending, such as a new railway line within a single region) split out by region. Non-identifiable spending (where the Treasury are not able to define a location of spend and benefit from that spending, such as national defence which is considered to benefit all citizens equally) is labelled as such and labelled separately.
Details on how regional allocations are assigned are contained in Public Expenditure Statistical Analyses (PESA) 2019 complete document, specifically in sections 9.15 to 9.29, titled "The process of apportioning expenditure by country and region".
An excellent further discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of this methdology (which is generally very good) was written in Northern Ireland by Bob Harper titled Calculating public spending and revenue in Northern Ireland.
Why is the data sometimes different to in the less detailed tool?
The data is different because unlike in the official data compiled by the ONS, we do not assign non-identifiable spending to a region on a per capita basis. This makes a very big difference for defence spending, and a very small difference for transport spending.