Magazine article Public Finance

Numbers Game

Magazine article Public Finance

Numbers Game

Article excerpt

£50k

University courses 'mis-sold', NAO suggests

Graduates are leaving university with average debt of £50,000 after a three-year course, the National Audit Office revealed. In a critical report, the watchdog raised concerns about the value for money of higher education, suggesting students were being "mis-sold" courses.

68inquiries

Public inquiries triple

There have been 68 public inquiries since 1990 at a cost of £639m, according to Institute for Government analysis. This compares to just 19 in the preceding 30 years. The government was increasingly relying on public inquiries to examine major incidents and tragedies, the think-tank said.

6th

Justice shuffle

David Gauke became the sixth Conservative justice secretary in eight years after Theresa May's new year ministerial reshuffle, following in the footsteps of Ken Clarke, Chris Grayling, Michael Gove, Liz Truss and David Lidington. He is the first qualified lawyer since Clarke to occupy the post.

Spending splits

The largest slice of the public spending pie for 2018-19 (£252bn of approximately £808bn) will go on social protection measures, such as state pensions and other welfare benefits, the autumn budget showed.

Health gets the next biggest tranche with £155bn, followed by £102bn for education. Some £41bn will be spent on debt interest, according to the chart in the Red Book. There are boosts for transport, research and development and housing, and first-time buyers are to be permanently exempted from paying stamp duty on homes worth up to £300,000.

Revenue source

The autumn Budget gave an insight into sources of government revenue.

Income tax makes up most of the receipts at £185bn, followed by VAT at £145bn and national insurance contributions at £134bn.

Business rates, collected by councils, bring in £30bn, while council tax yields £34bn.

According to the Red Book, the government has secured an additional £160bn in tax revenue. It also said the tax gap was 6.0% in 2015-16, one of the lowest in the world.

Another country

Following Brexit, it's likely that UK citizens will lose their automatic right to live and work in any of the 27 EU nations.

However, that might not matter too much as YouGov research has revealed that EU countries don't figure very prominently in Brits' desirable destinations. …

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