Public spending

Spending on different departments and areas

Spending isn’t often presented as just one number. Instead, HM Treasury accounts tend to divide spending into Departmental Expenditure Limits (DEL) and Annually Managed Expenditure (AME). DEL spending encompasses items that HM Treasury expects departments to be able to manage and predict accurately (such as staff costs, consultancy services and most grant payments). The AME category is reserved for spending that is more difficult to forecast, either because it’s demand-led or by nature particularly volatile (for example, benefit payments or tax credits).

HM Treasury publishes quarterly public spending statistics that detail spending by department (e.g. Department of Health), function (e.g. public order and safety) and region, as well as information on trends over time.

In addition, the Treasury publishes an annual Public Expenditure Statistical Analysis which brings together recent spending data and shows spending plans for the future.

Historical spending

A summary of total public spending over time, and how it compares to tax receipts, is compiled by the Office for Budget Responsibility’s public finances databank.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has its own tables summarising public spending by function since the Second World War.


Every year the Chancellor of the Exchequer sets out the government’s tax and spending plans for the coming year. Information and documents on the latest Budget are available from the Treasury.

Previous budgets are also available from the Treasury.

A list of past Budgets and their documents from 1998 to 2010 is now published by the National Archives.

Autumn statements and pre-Budget reports are also published by HM Treasury.

Policy costings

With every Budget comes a series of policies, and each are costed by HM Treasury. These are available in documents published alongside the Budget. However, the Office for Budget Responsibility also certifies these costings and collects all the recent documents since the 2010 election in one place.