UK spends less on ‘social protection’ than any other Northern European country


The UK spends less on social security, benefits and healthcare than any other Northern European country, a report from the Office for National Statistics has revealed.

The report, which compared the combined spending per head of population, found that the UK’s spending on ‘social protection’ is lower than its counterparts in the likes of France, Germany, Norway and Sweden.

Figures are based on spending per person from 2012, meaning that most of the coalition government’s deepest spending cuts are not included. Spending at the time of the report worked out at an average of £6,959 per head each year.


‘Social protection’ covers a wide range of spending including benefits, pensions, healthcare and social exclusion. The UK spent a higher percentage of its social spending on old age and healthcare than the European average but spent considerably less on disability, family and unemployment.

Luxembourg spent the most on social protection per head, more than twice the average expenditure of the 33 countries. However, a large proportion of benefits in Luxembourg are paid to people living outside the country (for example pensions), which inflates the per head figure.

The UK had similar expenditure to Italy and Iceland (Italy was 1.3% higher and Iceland was 0.9% higher). Spain had the next highest spending after the UK, spending 19.6% less.

The report can be viewed in full on the ONS website.


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