England

EU cost: Why £350m and £156m per week are both wrong

Headline from i newspaper: What we really send Brussels each week £156m"

The claim: The UK sends £156m a week to Brussels.

Reality Check verdict: The UK actually sent £252m a week to the EU in 2016 after the rebate had been deducted, some of which was spent on projects in the UK.

On Monday, the Press Association (PA) wrote some analysis of Treasury data showing that the UK's weekly net contribution to the EU Budget in the past financial year was £156m, the lowest since 2011-12.

Tuesday's i newspaper and several online publications compared that figure with the £350m a week that Vote Leave claimed the UK sent to the EU every week in 2014.

But that is confusing the levels of contribution at different stages of the process.

The figures used by PA came from a Treasury analysis published last month called Public Expenditure Statistical Analyses 2017 or Pesa for short - it's table C.1.

The figure of £156m is what you get if you take the gross contribution and subtract the rebate and the amount spent by the EU on funding things in the UK such as supporting farmers and regional aid.

So that's not, as the i and other headlines suggested, what we send to Brussels each week - it's what we send to Brussels minus some of what is spent in the UK.

The £350m figure was also not what we sent to Brussels each week because the UK's rebate is deducted before the money is sent - the correct figure in 2014 for the amount sent was £276m a week. We covered this extensively at the time.

Also, the Pesa figures cover financial years, unlike the calendar-year figures used in the referendum debate.

PA described the Pesa figures as being the first figures to be published covering contributions during the period of the referendum in June 2016. That is also not correct.

The figures for the calendar year 2016 were published in February - it's table 3.3.

The weekly figure for the amount after the rebate has been deducted was actually £252m a week in 2016, down from £276m in 2014. That was indeed the lowest figure since 2012.

From that, we can say that the comparable figure with the £350m for 2016 was £327m (although actually the 2014 figure wasn't £350m - Vote Leave rounded down from £361m).


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