Sunday, April 26, 2009

How We Got the Spending Data

The tables of government spending on this site aggregate all public spending in the United Kingdom by fiscal year organized by government function.
Most of the recent data is actual public spending as reported by HM Treasury in its Public Expenditure Statistical Analyses (PESA). But the PESA numbers only extend back to the early 1990s. Records of public spending are available from the annual Blue Book, National Income and Expenditure. Prior to 1950 the spending numbers have been acquired from The Growth of Public Expenditure in the United Kingdom by Alan T. Peacock and Jack Wiseman. Data has been interpolated for the years not covered by the data sources. In addition, we have included budgeted and estimated spending as well. We have used color and italics to tell you the source of each item of spending.
Here is the key:
  • Actual public spending “outturn” is shown in blue text
  • Interpolated data filling in for missing years in the source records
    is shown in blue italic text
  • Estimated outturn spending is shown in normal text
  • Planned spending is shown in italic text
  • “Guesstimated” spending, i.e. future local authority spending projected by, is shown in red italic text
You can use controls on the table to change the year or to drill down to view more detailed spending information.

Guesstimated Spending

HM Treasury provides estimated outturn data for the current year. It also provides plan data for the following three years.
But the HM Treasury data on local authority spending is historical data only. It does not include any information on local authority plans.
So at we have massaged the recent historical data to come up with a “guesstimate” of future local authority spending.
The method used is project the change in spending for the last years of outturn data and estimate the percentage change in spending that this represents, limiting the percentage change to plus 20 percent and zero. We then apply that percentage for each year after the last year in the HM Treasury data.

Interpolated Spending

Prior to 1950 there are many missing years in the record, including a complete absence of spending at the function level for World War I and II. For the missing years we have interpolated data from the information given in the published years. For the war years we have tried to reconstruct the spending from the continuous record of overall spending and from the spending levels immediately before and after the war year gaps.

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