EU Referendum Voting Guide: Vote Leave on our EU membership fee

20 May 2016
What was claimed

The £350 million a week we pay to the EU budget is the same as the cost of building a new NHS hospital every week or hiring 600,000 nurses.

Our verdict

We send £250 million not £350 million. That could pay for an NHS hospital but at the moment £85 million of it is spent in the UK paying for things like farmers and poorer areas, so we would have to cut that spending first.

What was claimed

We get less than half of this back and have no control over how it’s spent.

Our verdict

Based on the money actually paid to the EU less than half comes back as funding in the UK, which is ultimately controlled at EU level and mainly spent on farmers and poorer areas.

What was claimed

We pay about £350 million a week to the EU budget.

Our verdict

The UK pays around £250 million a week to the EU, not £350 million.

The claim that the UK sends £350 million per week to the EU is wrong.

This figure does not include a rebate, or discount, on what the UK has to pay. In 2014 the UK would have paid £18.8 billion without the rebate but ended up paying £14.4 billion.

The estimate for 2015 is £12.9 billion. This is £248 million per week, or £35 million per day.
How much does the UK receive back?

The UK then gets money back in grants and payments from the EU. Some flow through the public sector, and mainly go to support farmers and poorer areas of the country. In 2015 this was estimated at £4.4 billion, or £85 million per week. More money, such as research grants, goes directly from the EU to the private sector.

Even so, the UK does get back less than half of the money it pays to the EU in most years.

What can be done with the money?

Neither the money that goes back to public sector nor the private sector is fully within the government’s control. If we left the EU we might choose to spend it all differently, or spend the same amount ourselves on farmers, poorer regions and the rest—leaving less to spend on building hospitals.

Assuming that every penny available is spent on hospital building, then anything from half a hospital to three hospitals a week might be built.

If instead you spent every penny currently sent to the EU hiring hospital nurses, you could get anywhere between 400,000 (Band 2 nurses outside London) and 80,000 (Band 8a nurses based in London). There are currently 285,000 nurses in the English NHS.


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