Northern Ireland’s public services spent most per head last year

6 Aug 18

Northern Ireland’s public services incurred the biggest spending per head in the UK in 2016-17, according to figures released by the Office for National Statistics.

The data also showed Northern Ireland had the highest net fiscal deficit per head at £5,014 in the last financial year while London had the highest net fiscal surplus per head at £3,698.  

London also raised the most revenue per head in 2016-17 at £16,545, according to the ‘experimental data’, released by the ONS last week.

In its release the ONS noted: “Between the financial year ending in 2011 and financial year ending in 2017, all countries and regions saw an improvement in their net fiscal balance (that is, either a decreasing deficit or increasing surplus); however, the gap between the net fiscal balances of London and the South East and those of other countries and regions has widened over this period.” The net fiscal balance of the South East per head in 2016-17 was £2,151.

Experimental data means statistical releases that are relatively new and still being developed by the official statistics body. It published the first country and regional statistics on public sector revenue and expenditure in May last year.

Northern Ireland public services were also found to have spent the highest amount of money per head in 2015 -2016 in last year’s figures, at £14,020.

The latest data, estimated from government figures, found Wales and the North East raised the least revenue per head in 2016-17 at £8,371 and £8,617 respectively.

Between the financial years ending in 2016 and 2017, the net fiscal deficit of the UK as a whole fell by £26.8bn, the statistics organisation concluded.

“The greatest improvement in a net fiscal balance was seen in London, where the net fiscal surplus increased by £6.9 bn (£786 per head) between the financial year ending in 2016 and 2017”, it found.

The ONS defined the public sector as central government departments and related agencies, local authorities and other public sector bodies such as the police.

Net fiscal balance is the gap between total spending and revenue raised.

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