There was rightly an outrage when the EU announced last year that the UK along with other member states had to change the basis of calculation for its GDP in a way which meant we then had to pay more money as contribution to the EU budget. The government argued strongly against the gross payment, and many voters thought it unfair that the UK was required to make such a large payment for past years.
The latest government publication on spending, tax revenue and the deficit offers some clarification of what has now happened. In December 2014 the UK public finances recorded a gross payment of £2.9 billion extra money to the EU, though no cash was transferred at that point. The first cash payment of £0.4 billion was made in July 2015, and the second payment of £2.4bn was paid in September 2015.
Against this unwelcome payment are substantial offsets. The UK is promised a repayment as the EU returns to all member states additional contributions ” related to data revisions.”. The Office of Budget Responsibility estimates that the UK will get £1.2 billion back under this heading. So far £0.5bn has been received in February this year. In addition the UK will receive back an estimated £0.8bn as additional UK rebate under the method of calculating that.
So the latest official forecast is the UK will end up paying an additional £0.9bn, not the £2.9bn gross figure originally debited to the accounts. At the moment the UK is £1.9bn out of pocket, with the promise of further rebates and repayments.
All this reveals the complexity of EU affairs, and the fact that even a Eurosceptic government with no wish to pay any extra ends up having to pay something all the time it is a member of the EU.