News story

How will councils spend your £53 billion this year?

Local Government Secretary, Eric Pickles, today published new figures showing exactly how much town halls have to spend for each resident. He…

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Local Government Secretary, Eric Pickles, today published new figures showing exactly how much town halls have to spend for each resident. He encouraged local taxpayers to go compare and ask how their money is being spent this year.

Unsupported embedding or hotlinking !Heat map of the UK showing revenue spending power per head, 2011-12Revenue Spending Power per head, 2011-12
- Full size map (pdf, 1330 kb)

The average spending figure is equivalent to councils spending over £1,000 for every resident in their area.

The new figures and ‘spending heat map’ reveal councils’ revenue spending across England will be almost £53 billion this year to spend on services, despite the need to reduce the inherited budget deficit.

Almost a quarter (78) of councils covering 37 per cent of the population - including Newcastle, Wolverhampton, Torbay and Liverpool - have over £1,000 for every resident living in their boundaries.

The overall figures for revenue spending power per resident for the current year (2011-12) shows 19 per cent (63) of councils receive over £1,050 per resident, 62 per cent (200) receive between £830 and £1,050 and only 19 per cent (63) receive below £830.

The Government has already published similar maps showing the council tax per head contribution and how much councils receive in central government grant per head.
Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles said:

The public knows that councils - and indeed central government - can deliver far better for value money. It’s not how much you spend, but how you spend it.

This is not to say that making the savings to council budgets won’t be challenging for councillors and council officers. It’s very easy to salami-slice budgets or cut the frontline first. But that’s the easy option. It’s harder - but better - to deliver transformational change, finding new ways of working. Transparency is at that heart of that process.

On the spending figures, he added:

Despite the need to pay off the budget deficit, councils are spending £53 billion this year, equivalent to an average of £1,000 for every man, woman and child. Local taxpayers should now go compare and check they are receiving value for money for the spend they get.

The poorest areas receive the most money. But some of the councils with the best services receive the least. Whether you live in north and south, rural and urban, metropolitan and shire, what people want to see is value for money.

Note for editors

  1. Two of the main sources of council revenue are:
  • Council tax, which accounts for quarter of all revenue. Council tax varies according to the property values of each area - with more affluent areas and bigger homes paying more. The Government helped councils freeze council tax this year. It has also ruled out a council tax revaluation in this Parliament, as it could have meant soaring bills for millions for homes. In the 2005 revaluation in Wales, four times as many homes moved up one or more bands as down.
  • A complex central government formula, which fairly distributes £29.4 billion in grant. February’s Local Government Finance Settlement was structured so areas most dependant on formula grant received the lion’s share of that central government funding while those collecting more council tax tended to receive less. This creates a fairer system between different parts of the country - north and south, rural and urban, metropolitan and shire.
  1. £52.7 billion of council revenue around the country is distributed per head of population to give a national average (using the England figure of 51,809,741) of £1017. The overall spending power figures were published in January 2011. The methodology and detailed spreadsheets are available on our website at: (external link).

These figures use the estimated 2011-12 Revenue Spending Power (including Transition Grant) as available on the DCLG website. The per capita figures are based on ONS’s mid-2009 population estimates, which are the most up to date currently available. The data is for the local billing authority area as a whole.

  1. The 78 councils over the £1000 mark are as follows: (MS Excel, 18 kb).

  2. £26.5 billion of council tax requirement collected around the country is distributed per head of population. The national average is £511.

  1. Figures showing how the £29.4 billion of central taxpayer funding for local government distributed around the country is allocated per head for each council. The national average is £559.


Keep up to date with the Department by following us on Twitter (external link).

Media enquiries

Visit our newsroom contacts page for media enquiry contact details.

Published 17 May 2011