Priti Patel’s tweet on police funding doesn’t account for inflation

23 December 2021
What was claimed

Police funding has risen from £12.1bn in 2015/16 to £16.9bn in 2022/23.

Our verdict

This is true in cash terms but fails to take into account inflation, meaning the actual increase in police spending is much lower.

Both the Home Secretary Priti Patel and the official Home Office Twitter account recently tweeted a graph showing what appears to be a significant increase in police funding from 2015/16 to 2022/23, alongside an announcement that funding would increase by £1.1 billion to £16.9bn in 2022/23.

However, as has already been pointed out online, the sharp rise in police funding, from £12.1bn in 2015/16 to £16.9bn in 2022/23, isn’t quite what it seems. 

The amounts of money detailed in the graph for each year are simply the funding figures announced at the time. This means that they don’t take into account inflation, reflecting the changing value of the pound. 

When we’re looking at how government spending is affected by inflation, we use measures produced by the Treasury called GDP deflators. Using these deflators we can work out how much annual police funding has increased in real terms.

For example, the graph tweeted by Ms Patel and the Home Office shows a rise in police funding from £14.2bn to £15.4bn between 2019/20 and 2020/21. 

However, after adjusting for rising prices using the GDP deflator, £14.2bn in 2019/20 prices is equivalent to approximately £15.1bn in 2020/21 prices. In real terms, therefore, police funding increased by £0.3bn (from £15.1bn to £15.4bn). 

In 2015/16 police funding was £12.1bn in cash terms—representing the first and lowest point on the graph. However, if we apply the GDP deflator, this amounts to £14bn in 2020/21 money. 

A graph produced by the Institute for Government (IfG) demonstrates this more clearly, showing the change in gross police spending in England and Wales from 2009/10 to 2019/20. 

It shows a very different picture to the graph tweeted by the Home Office and Ms Patel, with a slight decrease in police spending in real terms between 2014/15 and 2016/17. 

According to the IfG analysis of government figures, gross police spending dropped sharply by more than 14% between 2009/10 and 2013/14. It remained below this level until 2019/20. 

A Home Office spokesperson told Full Fact: “The graph is accurate and shows actual funding announced. 

“Beating crime is the government’s number one priority and we have given the police the funding they need to cut crime, keep our streets safe and protect victims.

“Policing and police funding structures have changed significantly since 2015, which is why it is difficult to make direct comparisons with funding before 2015.”

We took a stand for good information.

After we published this fact check, we contacted the Home Office to ask them to include important context which we believe is missing from their tweet.

We also made the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) aware of our fact check.

The OSR wrote a letter to the Home Office about this.

The Home Office has replied to its tweet clarifying that these are not real term figures and responded to the OSR's letter about this. 

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