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Map of the week: Public spending in the UK

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Mark Easton | 08:15 UK time, Monday, 30 June 2008

This week's map looks at public expenditure in each of the UK nations and regions as a proportion of the GDP in that area. Basically, it's the relationship between how much a region gets from the state against how much they contribute.

Map of public spending in the UK

There is a marked variation, from 34.1% in the South East of England to 62.7% in Northern Ireland.

Scotland, I notice, has similar levels of public spending as a proportion of GDP to North West England and less than Wales and the North East of England.

Overall public expenditure for the UK is at 43% of GDP, having risen from 39% in 2001/2.

An explanation for the variation is that areas with, for example, high levels of worklessness and poor health will receive more state help than less deprived regions. But the economists at Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), to whom I express thanks for the original data, are anxious about what our map reveals:

"Parts of the UK have become so dependent on public spending that it can crowd out private enterprise in these regions and countries. It is partly a chicken and egg situation - public spending in these regions is high because they are doing less well economically, but on the other hand a high public spending share can make a revival of the private sector difficult to achieve. And the latest data suggests that this problem is getting worse."

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