The recent budget contained 53 announcements on spending and 33 announcements on tax.
As our chart this week shows, the headline was an extra £7bn for the NHS in 2019-20, rising to £28bn in 2023-24. £84bn over the forecast period and an increase of 1.77% in public spending.
Only nine other spending announcements exceeded £0.5bn. Additional funds for Universal Credit, social housing, social care, defence, High Streets, City-regions, road maintenance and school buildings added a further 0.33%. Altogether £4.8tn for the period to March 2024.
The other 40 measures which together added £1.9bn or 0.04% to the total were all below that level. 24 of them were for £25m or less – each a miniscule share of total spending.
It is unusual to identify such small amounts within the top level of the budgeting process for the government of the sixth biggest economy in the world. They could easily have been covered by existing departmental budgets, or by HM Treasury’s central contingency.
Except of course the Budget is as much political theatre as it is a fiscal event. Who would want to deprive the Chancellor of the opportunity to announce an increase of total spending by 0.0002% for urban tree planting or 0.0001% for digital skills boot camps?
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