UK Statistics Authority calls £350m EU membership fee claim "potentially misleading"

21 April 2016 | Phoebe Arnold

The UK Statistics Authority has described a key Vote Leave claim as "potentially misleading". 

Vote Leave has repeatedly claimed that we send £350 million to Brussels every week, for example on social media and in its campaign materials

This is not a fact, as Vote Leave has claimed. This figure doesn't take into account the fact that the UK gets a rebate, which is applied straight away—before the money goes anywhere. 

The statistics watchdog published a letter today which said:

"the use of the £350 million figure, which appears to be a gross figure which does not take into account the rebate or other flows from the EU to the UK public sector (or flows to non-public sector bodies), alongside the suggestion that this could be spent elsewhere. Without further explanation I consider these statements to be potentially misleading. Given the high level of public interest in this debate it is important that official statistics are used accurately, with important limitations or caveats clearly explained."

You can read our guide to the UK's EU contributions here, or see the graphic below for an overview. 

In 2015 the UK actually paid just under £250 million a week. This is based on figures from the Treasury. Those in the UKSA letter come from 2014 figures from the ONS, which are calculated slightly differently.

Vote Leave should revise their message on this topic in line with the facts.

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