News | Published March 06 2020

Brexit preparations cost government over £4 billion

According to the National Audit Office, government departments spent over £4 billion on preparations for leaving the EU.

The public spending watchdog noted that the figure encompassed spending on advertising, staff and external advice.

A spokesperson for the Treasury defended the figure, stating that the government had ensured "all necessary funds available" could be used to prepare the country for its departure from the European Union.

The Lib Dems criticised the figure, stating that "billions of pounds have been thrown away in a bid to paper over the Tories' Brexit mess".

The NAO emphasized that the report was simply intended to disclose the sum which had been spent and was not intended to determine whether or not the £4 billion had been value for money.

The body also noted that the figure was the "minimum estimated level of spend" due to the fact the data provided was limited.

The report showed over half of the money spent on preparations for Brexit was used by the Home Office, HM Revenue and Customs and the environment department.

In the two years between 2016, and 2017 and 2019 and 2020, the Treasury ensured an additional £6.3 billion of funding was available to cover the cost of the UK’s departure from the European Union.

The majority of the money used was spent on staffing, with almost £2 billion used for this. At its peak, some 22,000 civil servants were working on Brexit in October last year.

The money also included the £46 million on the “Get ready for Brexit” campaign, of which the NAO had previously said, it was "not clear that the campaign led to the public being significantly better prepared".

Meg Hllier, chairwoman of the Commons Public Accounts Committee, said that "The public has been kept in the dark as to what the Government has been doing.

"Data is limited, and the Treasury seem unconcerned by the lack of transparency."

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Authored by

Alice Jaspars
Culture Editor
March 06 2020

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