Statistical slapdown for Leave campaigners who claim the UK pays £350 million a week to the EU

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They’ve been doing it since before the EU referendum campaign started, but now campaigners demanding the UK votes ‘Leave’ have been rebuked by the authority responsible for official statistics.

The reason? The UK isn’t spending £350 million a week on the European Union.

Anybody who says we’re giving that much to Europe is either deluded or lying. It’s as simple as that.

Sir Andrew Dilnot, Chair of the UK Statistics Authority has said today:

  • Given the high level of public interest in the European Union referendum debate, it is vital that official statistics are used accurately, with important caveats and limitations explained.
  • The UK Statistics Authority is disappointed to note that there continue to be suggestions that the UK contributes £350 million to the EU each week, and that this full amount could be spent elsewhere (see Annex A).
  • As we have made clear, the UK’s contribution to the EU is paid after the application of the rebate. We have also pointed out that there are payments received by the UK public and private sectors that are relevant here. The continued use of a gross figure in contexts that imply it is a net figure is misleading and undermines trust in official statistics.

Concerns have been raised with the UK Statistics Authority about continued suggestions that the UK contributes £350 million to the EU each week, and that this full amount could be spent elsewhere. The Authority has set out in recent correspondence listed below the figures which describe different sources of UK contributions to the EU, in particular, Table 9.9 of the Pink Book, which gives the ONS’s best view of the UK’s official payments to and receipts from the EU.

The UK Statistics Authority concluded on 21 April 2016 that the use of the £350 million figure, which is a gross figure which does not take into account the rebate or other flows from the EU to the UK public sector (or flows to non-public sector bodies), alongside the suggestion that this could be spent elsewhere, without further explanation, was potentially misleading.

The Office for National Statistics published the ‘UK Perspectives 2016: The UK contribution to the EU budget’ release on 25 May 2016. This is available at and sets out UK contributions to the EU budget.

Source: UK Statistics Authority statement on the use of official statistics on contributions to the European Union – UK Statistics Authority


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3 thoughts on “Statistical slapdown for Leave campaigners who claim the UK pays £350 million a week to the EU

  1. Zippi

    I think that most people know that this is a gross figure. Not every member of the public is as stupid as some organisations would like to believe; I think that this is one of the reasons why many, many people are still undecided in this referendum and I include myself among them. Both sides have been spouting utter rubbish, dressing up speculation, conjecture, supposition and hypothesis as fact; telling us that they have the power to predict the future. Well, they and their friends have done a sterling job of that, thus far!
    I have heard but two economists speak truthfully on this; one, a member of the Royal Economic Society, who wants us to remain, who said, “[we] shouldn’t trust economists to predict the future. We’ve never predicted anything.” and another, who wants us to leave, who quoted, “the only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look good.”
    What I would like to know, however, is how this money is paid. Several people, on the leave side, have suggested that we do pay all of that money but we get the rebate the following year. We know that some of the money is spent on E.U. designated projects within the U.K., which suggests that we don’t get to decide on how our money is spent, even in our own country, which is an odd thing.
    Personally, I think that the focus of the campaigns has been on entirely the wrong things. We are being asked to vote one way or the other, on our membership of the institution that is the European Union yet, how many people know the first thing about it? Powers were cede to Brussels without our consent. If we vote to remain, we will be giving consent but how many of us knows what powers were ceded? In my opinion, we are not being told what we NEED to know.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Okay, I can help you with how the money is paid: The rebate is applied first, then we pay what’s left to the EU.
      Yes, we receive money that is designated for EU projects in the UK, but that doesn’t mean we don’t get to decide how it is spent. We are a very loud part of the EU and the projects happening here in the UK do so because the UK has asked for them.
      I think your last paragraph has a lot of sense (although you are wrong in that no powers at all were ceded to Brussels without UK consent): We are being asked to vote on something most of us do not understand.

Comments are closed.