UK government spending: 7 most expensive areas in 2017

Where did tax-payers’ money go last year? How much was spent on the NHS, Pensions, Welfare and Defence?

According to UK Public Spending, UK central government spending totalled £606bn in the fiscal year ending 2017. Here are the seven most expensive areas of government.

7. Transport

In 2017, the UK government spent an estimated £19.8bn on transportation, making it the third most expensive area of government spending. This includes £10.7bn on railway spending and £4.2bn on national roads.

6. Education

This next area of spending dwarfs the £19.8bn spent on transport - the UK central government spent £41.3bn on education. This includes almost £30bn on secondary education alone.

5. Defence

At the end of 2017, the Independent reported that there was talk of defence cuts following a review by security adviser Mark Sedwill. Last year, the government spent £44.7bn on defence, of which £35.1bn included military defence. A further £7.7bn went towards foreign economic aid while half a billion went towards foreign military aid.

4. Interest

The fourth most expensive area of government spending last year went towards paying interest on borrowed money. This amounted to a staggering £48.4bn. This seems like a lot, and it is, but Full Fact points out that a portion of this total went towards paying the “state-owned Bank of England” so a lower total would be more accurate.

3. Welfare

Welfare comes in at third place, with £56.9bn having been spent in 2017. It is important to note that this excludes pensions, however, only £2.2bn was spent on unemployment-related welfare. This is dwarfed by the £15.1bn of family and children welfare spending.

It is worth noting that UK Public Spending classes “other spending” as the next largest area of spending, however, it is included in this list as it is a vague category covering a broad mix of expenditures from mining, broadcasting, housing development and fuel and energy. The central government spent £73.3bn on this category in 2017.

2. Healthcare

More healthcare spending is talked about constantly. Currently, spending on healthcare in the UK is a whopping £140.8bn. This includes £134.6bn on medical services, £4.3bn on public health services and £1.9bn on research and development.

1. Pensions

UK government spending on pensions tops this list, with £156.1bn having been spent in this area in 2017. This is a strikingly high amount.

£111bn of this goes towards old age pensions while £43.6bn covers sickness and disability pensions.

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