Revealed: How much the UK pays the EU per person every day

This is how much Britain actually pays the EU (PA Images)
This is how much Britain actually pays the EU (PA Images)

The UK’s net contribution to the EU remains a hotly contested topic following the Brexit referendum.

The Leave Campaign’s assertion that Britain sends £350 million a week to the bloc – infamously daubed across the side of a bus during the referendum campaign – has been the subject of heated debate, with Boris Johnson recently refreshing the claim.

The controversial figure appears to originate from a Treasury statement forecasting the UK’s spend on the EU – and has been slammed as a ‘clear misuse of official statistics’ by Sir David Norgrove, Chair of the UK Statistics Authority.

Now the Office of National Statistics has dived into the numbers, using the latest data from the European Commission and ONS data for the UK’s official transactions with EU institution.

Their analysis takes into account the UK’s gross contribution to the EU as well as the rebate Britain receives, plus the money the EU sends to the UK public and private sectors combined.

Using this ‘arguably more complete picture of the money that flows between the UK and the EU’, the ONS found that the UK’s net contribution to the EU is £9.4 billion per year.

This is equivalent to the UK paying out 39p per person per day.

The figure amounts to a pay-out of £181 million per week – significantly lower than the much-discussed £350 million.

The UK’s net contribution to the EU (ONS)
The UK’s net contribution to the EU (ONS)

The UK’s gross contribution to the EU amounts to the £19 billion. Before this is paid out a rebate of £5 billion is applied, and £13.9 billion was transferred from the UK government.

£4.4 billion is then paid back into the UK through EU-funded public sector credits.

The ONS’s calculations also include money from the EU that comes back to the UK private sector, for example to fund research at UK universities.


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Explaining their methodology and the reasons for differences in figures for the contribution, the ONS said: ‘HM Treasury also publishes figures on the payments between the EU and the UK government and estimated the net contribution in 2016 to be £8.6 billion.

‘Its figures differ to those reported by ONS in Pink Book 2016 as they are estimates, versus the final figures used in the ONS publication.

‘Treasury figures are also presented on a cash basis, whereas ONS data are presented on an accruals basis.’