Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Thin Blue Line

As we look to the future and how the UK government spends its money, it may be worth while looking to the past.  How did we spend money then?  Why have things changed?

Fortunately, there is a wonderful web site that makes it possible to do just that.  It's called UK Public Spending and it tracks budgets (and lots of other interesting numbers) over the past 20 to 30 years.  I looked at it the other day when I was wondering about where it made most sense to make cuts.

Here's a chart I made, comparing spending on Defence with spending on Health.  In 1990, for every £100 we spent on Health, we spent about £80 on Defence.  Today, for every £100 we spend on Health, we spend £20 on Defence.  To put it another way, in 1990 Defence represented 11.6% of the Budget and Health 16.6%: today, in the middle of the war in Afghanistan, Defence represents 6.7% of the Budget and Health 35.9%.

Here's a graph that shows it.  Blue is Defence, Green is NHS.  Click on the graph to see it in full size.  The bars show each department's funding as a proportion of the budget: the lines show each department's budget as a proportion of GDP.

So if you were looking for savings, where would you look?

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