Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland incurred the highest public spend per head in UK last year

Economist: Andrew Webb
Economist: Andrew Webb
Ryan McAleer

By Ryan McAleer

A new Government study has confirmed that Northern Ireland incurred the highest public spending per head among all UK regions last year.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) study put the expenditure at £14,195 per head for the 12 months ending March 31, 2018, slightly ahead of Scotland at £13,682 per head.

The east of England recorded the lowest public spending at £10,970 per head.

The ONS report also identified Northern Ireland as having the highest net fiscal deficit per head at £4,939, in the 2017-18 financial year.

The figure relates to the gap between total spending and revenue raised, meaning Northern Ireland earned more in public spending than it put into the central Government pot.

London had the highest net fiscal surplus per head, at £3,905.

Economist Andrew Webb from Grant Thornton said: "While it doesn't touch on the issues that drive this additional spending per head, such as greater rurality, greater 'need' and a legacy of the conflict, in blunt terms it does crystallise that Northern Ireland is living well beyond its means and relies on a significant transfer from HM Treasury each year to provide the levels of public services we currently have."

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He added: "While transfers from better off regions to less well-off regions is perfectly normal, papers such as this do shine a light on how stark the gap between what we raise here and what we spend is.

"It may prompt questions from taxpayers and politicians in London and the south east as to how efficiently and effectively we are delivering public services."

Belfast Telegraph

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