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Northern Ireland public spending highest in UK - £14,020 per head


Deficit: Esmond Birnie

Deficit: Esmond Birnie

Deficit: Esmond Birnie

Northern Ireland has the highest level of public spending of any region in the UK, new figures have shown.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), an average of £14,020 per head was spent in Northern Ireland in 2016. That's significantly higher than other regions, such as London at £12,690.

The lowest expenditure was in the South East and East of England at £10,580 and £10,590 per person.

The least revenue was raised in Northern Ireland at £15.9bn, which equalled approximately £8,580 per person.

One economist says the figures highlight Northern Ireland's position as a "big deficit" economy.

Ulster University's Esmond Birnie said: "Tuesday's figures from the ONS confirm this. Northern Ireland has a relatively high level of public spending and also a relatively low level of tax raised.

"By implication there is a gap which can only be made up by a substantial fiscal transfer from the Exchequer, about £10bn annually over each of the last three years according to the ONS data.

"We should not underestimate how important this fiscal transfer is to the Northern Ireland economy - it has always dwarfed any net transfer of EU funds into the region and if the transfer was not available there would be a massive slump in both private and public sector activity.

"The ONS figures show only three of the UK regions do not have a fiscal deficit and Northern Ireland's is the largest in proportional and per capita terms."

The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics are described as "experimental".

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