In 2009-10, Labour’s last year, the state spent £669bn and collected just £479 billion in taxes. The deficit (after allowing for other income) was more than £150 billion. That represents spending of £10,437 for every man, woman and child in the country, average borrowing per person of £2340 in a single year and average tax per person of £7472. These figures are averages including children.
In 2014-15, the Coalition’s last year, total spending reached £737.1bn, total taxes £602.4bn and borrowing was down to £87.3bn. That is £11,497 of spending per person, £9,391 of taxes per person, and £1362 of additional borrowing per person.
How does that compare with plan? The spending is exactly as forecast in 2010. The tax revenue is £54 billion less than forecast, so the borrowing is up on original forecast.
How does 2015 compare with 2010? Spending is up by £68 billion or £1060 per person, tax is up by £122.7bn, or £1914 per person, and the deficit is down by £63 billion or just under £1000 per person.
All who wish to debate the UK economy and austerity should start by examining these figures. The official statistics show us that real public expenditure rose a bit under the Coalition. Over the last five years public spending has made a small positive contribution to economic growth and output. It has not reduced or slowed our economy as some have argued.Welfare spending has risen, despite a fall in unemployment, mainly owing to upratings of benefits.
The main tax rise has come from the increased rate of VAT and from increased transactions in the economy boosting VAT receipts more. Income tax revenue is only slightly up, as natural gains from more output have been reduced by taking 2.5 million people out of tax altogether and by the 50% rate in place for part of the period.Over the five years more than an extra £500 billion or £7800 per person was borrowed. It is difficult to believe the state could have borrowed much more without triggering higher interest rates and a loss of confidence in financial management.