A look at how much the UK government spend on social security, benefits and welfare payments.
Note. I found it very difficult to find stats on how much the government spends on various benefits. The most helpful places were.
- Public Expenditure analysis 2014 at gov.uk
- Institute for Fiscal Studies – Benefit survey 2014
- UK Benefit welfare spending – Guardian Jan 2013
- UK Public spending
Total public spending 2013/14 – £686 billion.
- Social security budget- £251 billion 37% of 2013/14 spending
- State pensions account for £83 billion
- Welfare spending of £168 billion or roughly 25% of budget
- Benefit spending – of the £205 billion or so spent on tax credits and social security benefits, the IFS calculate about £111 billion is spent on those over pension age and £94 billion on those of working age.
- Source: welfare spending at IFS
Benefit spending in the UK
The only breakdown I could find of benefit spending was from this Guardian data doc. Using original data from the Department of Work and Pensions .
Welfare benefits (billion, bn)
- Housing benefit £16.94
- Disability allowance £12.57
- pensions credit +MIG £8.11
- iIncome support £6.92
- Rent rebates £5.45
- Attendance allpwance £5.30
- Incapacity £5.30
- Jobseekers allowance £4.90 (0.7% of total spending)
- Council tax benefit £4.80
- employment + Support £3.58
- sick + maternity pay £2.55
- Social fund £2.37
- carers allowance £1.73
- financial assistance £1.24
- Total £159
Main groups of welfare payments
- State pensions £74.22
- housing benefits £27.20
- Disability benefits £24.80
- low income £17.40
- Jobseekers allowance £4.90
- others £9.60
- total £159
- housing = housing benefit + rent rebate + Council tax benefits
- disability = disability allowance, incapacity benefit, carers allowance
- low income support – pensions credit, minimum income guarantee, social fund
UK Spending Breakdown
A motivation for this post was the governments own guide to how it spends it’s money, which apparently is getting sent to every household (at a cost of £5 million.
Firstly, the ‘Welfare’ budget is so diverse, it is not really a helpful breakdown.
Given the political issues around welfare spending and prospect of welfare cuts, it is easy to misinform the public about the nature of welfare and benefit spending. For example, ‘welfare spending’ includes public sector pensions, job seekers allowance, social security funds to help the disabled and elderly. These are all very different types of government spending. To lump it together is not particularly helpful. Others are less reserved in their judgement – A campaign to mislead at Mainly Macro
The main unemployment benefit (Job seekers allowance, just accounts for £4.9bn or 0.7% of total government spending. Yet, housing benefits account for over £23bn.
Even after spending all morning investigate government welfare spending, I’m still not happy about the quality of the statistics. The IFS were very helpful in deciphering part of welfare spending. But, I would like much clearer and easier stats on the breakdown of government welfare spending from the government departments. I will contact Dept of Work and Pensions and see if they can help.
- UK government spending as a % of GDP
- What does the government spend it’s money on
- Pension spending 2017