Government Money

IMPORTANT FACTS- Places of Government expenditure

In the years 2020/21 the UK Government will expect to spend £928 billion

This breaks down into the following categories:

  • Social protection: cost of welfare services, including all state benefits such as pensions and tax credits.
  • Personal social services: covers home helps and social work.  

IMPORTANT FACTS- What falls under ‘Other’ in the spending chart?

There is a long list but the big three in the ‘other spending’ are:

  • accounting adjustments
  • waste management
  • local recreational and sporting services. 

TRIVIA: Follow this link to view an interactive graphic on how the government spends money and the circular flow of income. 

TRIVIA:  See how different countries spend their money here. As an example, people in Sweden pay 49-60% of their salary in tax and the government uses it to provide subsidised childcare and generous parental leave. Read more here.

IMPORTANT FACTS- Sources of Government Income

In 2020/21 the UK Government’s income will amount to £873 billion and the additional £21.2 billion to make up government expenditure will come from borrowing. 

This is the graph representing where the Government takes money from:


What falls under various categories of income:IMPORTANT FACTS- Value Added Tax (VAT)

VAT is a tax we pay when buying goods and services in the EU, including the UK. If we have to pay VAT on something, it will normally be included in the price we see. We don’t have to pay VAT at all on some goods and services, and sometimes only pay a reduced rate. 

In the UK there are three rates:

  • Standard rate 20% – most goods and services in the UK.
  • Reduced rate 5% – e.g. children’s car seats and gas and electricity for the home.
  • Zero rate – there are some goods on which we don’t pay any VAT, like: most food items, books, newspapers and magazines, children’s clothes, and equipment for disabled people

Registering for VAT

Only a business can register for VAT and must do so when its turnover of VAT taxable goods and services supplied within the UK for the previous 12 months is more than the current registration threshold of £85,000, or if it expects it to go over that figure in the next 30 days. Voluntary registration may also apply in certain circumstances. This can be a complex area and individuals should seek expert advice.

  • Excise Duty: is a tax on certain goods such as alcohol and tobacco. When you buy excise goods in the UK the price you pay includes this tax. 
  • Other income- includes stamp duty and vehicle excise duty

You have to pay Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) if you buy a property in the UK over a certain price. This is charged on all purchases of houses, flats and other land and buildings.

The SDLT rate depends on:

  • the purchase price of the property
  • whether the property is residential

SDLT may also be due if you lease a property – see here.

  • Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) is an annual tax on the ownership of road vehicles, frequently referred to as “car tax” although it applies equally to vans, lorries and motorcycles.
  • Business rates are taxes to help pay for local services. They’re charged on most non-domestic properties (including commercial), eg:

– shops
– offices
– pubs
– warehouses
– factories

You’ll probably have to pay business rates if you use a building or part of a building for non-domestic purposes.

  • Corporation Tax is a tax on the taxable profits of limited companies and other organisations including clubs, societies, associations and other unincorporated bodies.
  • Borrowing: 

The UK national debt is the total amount of money the British government owes to the private sector and other purchasers of UK gilts. 

The majority of UK debt used to be held by the UK private sector, in particular, UK insurance and pension funds. In recent years, the Bank of England has bought gilts taking its holding to 25% of UK public sector debt.

Overseas investors own about 30% of UK gilts. See here for more details.

  • Additional information:

Source for the graphs is the Guardian Datablog and there is another useful website at UK Public Spending.

TRIVIA: Following diagram may be of interest. There’s no need to learn it but there may be discussion about who pays taxes in your sessions.