Election 2017

Could this general election be the UK's most expensive?

Polling station

Holding the 8 June general election is expected to cost the taxpayer more than £143m, the BBC understands.

The government estimate is an increase of 16% from the £123m it budgeted for the 2015 general election.

The price tag reflects the scale of the operation to staff tens of thousands of polling stations, process millions of votes and distribute candidates' mailings.

The cost of last year's EU referendum was similar.

That cost the taxpayer around £142m.

Taking the 2015 election as a guide, around 7.6 million postal votes were sent out. There were over 46 million poll cards and ballot papers printed to reflect 650 separate candidate lists for the election.

On the day of the vote itself, 41,000 polling stations were staffed for many hours by tens of thousands of people.

Image copyright Thinkstock

That evening, more than 30 million votes were counted by tens of thousands of people sorting through thousands of ballot boxes.

Holding national votes has become an expensive business.

Based on the government's estimate, obtained from the Cabinet Office and Northern Ireland Office, this would become the UK's most expensive election.

Since 2010, holding by-elections have on average each cost close to £240,000.

Costs for 8 June are higher than previous elections because this poll is being held on a stand-alone basis. Often joint local and national elections are held, where administrative costs can be shared between different bodies polling on the same day, such as councils.

Campaign trail

The anticipated costs may also reflect expectations over turnout, the number of candidates and parties standing and how many people are expected to vote.

The deadline to hold the national poll on the same day as this May's local elections had passed by the time Theresa May surprised many in Westminster and called for a snap election.

As a result, returning officers in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have been allocated up to £101.6m in total for the 8 June poll.

The cost of delivering election mailings for candidates is expected to match the £41.7m spent on the 2015 general election, according to the Cabinet Office.

Spending by individual candidates and political parties on the campaign trail is treated separately.

For the 2015 general election, there was a total reported spend of over £39m by 57 parties and 23 non-party campaigners, according to the Electoral Commission.