We don’t send Brussels £350m a week

by Sam Ashworth-Hayes | 07.04.2016

Myth: UK sends Brussels £350m a week

InFact:  Vote Leave is lying when it says we send £350 million a week to the EU. This figure ignores the discount on our budget contribution – the “rebate” – that Margaret Thatcher secured. This is never sent to the EU. What’s more, if we quit, the economy would be hit, leaving us less money not more.

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The Leave camp keep saying we send £350 million a week – or £19 billion a year or £50 million a day – to Brussels. This inaccurate figure is plastered on Vote Leave’s battle bus and tossed around freely by Brexiteers including Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Nigel Farage.

They persist with this falsehood despite warnings from the chair of the UK Statistics Authority that it is “misleading” and a statement by the Office for National Statistics that this money is “never actually transferred to the EU.”

The real numbers are as follows. In 2015, Britain sent £250 million a week to the EU. The £100 million difference with Vote Leave’s figure reflects the Thatcher rebate, which is deducted before any British money is sent off to Brussels.

But it would also be wrong to describe £250 million as the cost of our EU membership. Last year Brussels sent the British government £4.4 billion to spend in the UK, mainly on farming and regional aid. It also gives money directly to the private sector, in particular for research. In 2013, the last year for which the government has published figures, this amounted to £1.4 billion.

After subtracting these sums, our cost of membership works out at £7.1 billion. That’s 30p per person per day – or half the price of a Mars Bar.


Moreover, we are committed to spend 0.7% of our national income on official aid for developing countries. Our share of EU aid – £816 million in 2014 –  counts towards this target. If we left the EU we would have to increase our direct aid payments to hit the 0.7% goal. After deducting that sum, the cost of our membership falls further to £6.3 billion.

When the Leave camp is confronted with the fact that we don’t send £350 million a week to Brussels, it oftens replies that the rebate is under threat. This isn’t true. To scrap, reduce or otherwise change the rebate, Britain would have to agree.

Finally, Vote Leave says that we could use the money we send to Brussels to pay for the NHS and other goodies. This again is false. If we quit the EU, the damage to our economy would be so great that we would have less money to spend, not more.



This article was significantly updated on June 13

Edited by Hugo Dixon

Tags: , , Categories: Articles

21 Responses to “We don’t send Brussels £350m a week”

  • our liability is for 18billion, 4.5b never gets paid due to the abatement out of the 13.5b left the eu give us back 4.5b in subsidies (c2b to farming with the rest tied to EU projects with a lot of private funds required to match the ‘eu’ contribution) leaving us 8.5billion a year out of pocket just for being in the club….we then lose another 60b trading with the club…

  • “The best figure for our net contribution is £17 million a day. If that sounds a lot, consider that it works out as 26 pence per person per day – half the price of a Mars bar.”

    But that half a Mars bar would still be of benefit to the UK and it still adds up to over 6 Billion pounds EVERY year. Imagine what we could do in THIS COUNTRY with over 6 Billion pounds every year. Don’t forget that this figure is on top of our Foreign Aid payments.

  • Well if it’s 17mil aday that 6205mil a year we could use better here.
    Why the hell are we paying only to get it back. A con going on there some where.. Just do trade with them same as we do with the rest of the world.We don’t pay into any other country in the world to trade with them
    This where the most of the uk are confused why are we paying them to trade with them. It means we are paying twice for the good we get from them.. tell me why..

  • It seems unbelievable that the Leave campaign can get away with such a blatant lie. There have been exaggerations and spurious claims on both sides but not something so clearly false as this.

  • Impotent as money is,, this is not the full picture,if you want to see the E.U in its true light take a look at the” Lisbon treaty,also the privileges and immunity of the E.U.”
    This i believe is what people should be considering before voting.

    Not the scare story’s from the remain side.

    “Would you sign your life/family and country away before reading the small print?”

    copy available on the web,its scary stuff !!.

  • £6b a year or 26p a day might still seem a lot, but that’s without factoring in the benefits to the economy from having access to a market of 500m+ people and the inward investment from China etc to the UK because of that. Eg Nissan factory built near Derby which is in the UK providing employment and growth because the cars produced can be sold on across the EU as being made here. I understand Nissan have plans to relocate production to Poland if the UK leaves – losing those jobs and income to the Uk ecconomy.

    26p a day to secure millions of jobs and many billions in benefit to the UK ecconomy then starts to sound like a good deal.

    Do people think Norway pay roughly what we do to be part of the free trade club for the hell of it? No, it’s because it makes economic sense as the benefits far outweigh the costs.

    • Think you might have got some wires crossed there Nick.Toyota is the factory near Derby.Nissan is near Sunderland and come here because of grants from the British government and the most able workforce in Europe.nothing to do with the EU , yes the market was there and still is,but what makes you think it will be any different if we come out.26p per day but not everybody works how many million children in the country who’s paying their share.play on figures from this report also.look at immigration figures is what we should all be looking at.300,000 more this year from eu plus illegal and asylum.do we want our country over populated because if you believe that the waiting nations won’t join at some stage or other then our naivety knows no bounds.

  • Again ‘InFiction’ attack ‘strawman’ arguments that it can win and deliberately smudge or omit data relating to arguments that have t cannot win…
    Take Norway. The In campaign like to refer to a contribution per head, to imply that the financial cost to the UK if it were an EEA/EFTA member ( and therefor OUT of the political EU.) are similar. They are not. They are calculated by dividing the GDP of the EFTA country by the GDP of the EFTA as a whole. If the UK left the political EU (hurrah) but instead joined the EEA and EFTA, our contribution to the EU would drop from around a net £7Billion to around £2 Billion. Fact.

    There’s access to to the single market exactly as we have now but saving £5 Billion.
    Plus we get the EEA unilateral migration brake. Plus we get to be more involved at the real global top tables like WTO, NUECE in Geneva and ISO, the trains globalbodies who tell the EU what to ‘tell us’ to do.

    The EU is now obsolete.

    And joining the EEA and EFTA is the first step to freeing ourselves from it.

    Let’s start by voting ‘leave’ on 23rd June

  • 1p per person per day is too much to pay for the loss of sovereignty to a bunch of arrogant unelected bueraeucrats.

    • I couldn’t agree more. Why should we have to do what an unelected arrogant bunch of halfwits say. Abolish the house of Lords and lets have some new by elections for the seats where they Tory Party committed criminal offences in election fraud.

  • Is it not a fact that we pay to be a member of the EU to trade with countries within the EU? So just to clear things up, we pay a huge amount of tax (26p per person per day for those living in Britain, considering the amount of people on benefits and those on low wages not paying taxes then this figure for those working and paying taxes is probably double the fictitious 26p or half a mars bar to cover for those not paying), to trade with EU countries, if we didn’t have to pay this tax then surely the price of goods would drop and we would become more competitive and attractive to foreign markets due to reduced taxation on goods produced, you never know, Mars bars may even reduce in price to 40p, that’s just 20p for half a Mars bars bar or 40p per week in my pocket, oh hang on, I’m one of the ones paying taxes so it’s more like 80p a week in my pocket (£41.60 a year).

  • Interesting.
    Sounds like if we leave we might just break even.
    Except, no we wouldn’t, because we’d also regain full sovereignty over our laws and regulations, and our immigration policy. We will never again be sucked into the encroaching political union that no one in this country ever voted for.

    The eurozone is a complete mess and the political integration has gone way too far (without our permission) and must be repealed.

    Anyone would think that outside the EU exists a void in which no one can survive. Or that being in the EU is a ticket to paradise. Utter rubbish. Ask the Greeks or the Spanish.

    Vote Remain to surrender your democratic rights and cede Westminster’s powers to unelected bureaucrats in Belgium, and tie us ever closer to the failing Eurozone.

  • Yes, Maggie got a rebate but Blair gave most of it back on the promise the CAP would be reformed. Still waiting…………….

  • The simple fact is that we do not need the EU. The EU needs us. If Britain leaves (and I hope that we do), we will ultimately gain far more than we will lose.

    If leaving will have the dire consequences that remain are claiming, then why on earth did Cameron give us the referendum in the first place? Was it political pressure maybe, that caused him to do what he (presumably) considered to be the wrong thing. Is that a PM working in the nation’s best interest or working for his own professional interest?

    If it’s such a bad idea , then why did he risk everything by publicly threatening to leave the EU if he didn’t get the assurances that he asked for earlier in the year? (and IMHO didn’t get).

    Why have the EU put off the debate about an “EU Army” until AFTER the referendum? Could it be because they consider the Idea of an EU army would be a vote loser for the remain campaign? Are they trying to control us yet again!

    The Great British people are renown throughout the world for their ‘guts’, determination and fortitude. sincerely hope they will keep up those traditions and not be scared off by the ludicrous forecasts of doom being put out by the remain campaign, most of whom are funded by the EU.

  • Reducing the cost to the lowest denominator, ie 26p per day per person, is an old psychological sales trick. Trying to reduce the perceived cost so that it becomes a nonsense, but it still amounts to the same £6 billion a year, which is NOT to be sniffed at.

    The truth about the cost of the EU

    However you look at it, £346 million per week is contracted to go to the EU as our membership fee. (generally rounded up as there are other associated costs.)

    The rebate amounts to £154 million, (think of it as the double glazing salesmans discount) therefore, our contribution is £192 million per week – BUT, we get some of this back to fund EU related projects.

    EU funded projects = a value of £77 million per week (please note that we cannot decide how this spent, but the EU splits this up among farmers and poorer regions.) £4 billion per year

    This means that our physical net contribution to the EU is £115 million per week, or, £6 billion per year. That is £115,000,000 per week that we do not get back and could be used to fund services like the NHS in the UK.

    Source for EU figures: https://fullfact.org/euro…/our-eu-membership-fee-55-million/

  • Epic missing of the point going on here. Yes, UK currently pays a big wedge to be a member of the EU – probably more than if it “did a Norway“.
    But whatever your view on Brexit, the fact is that the top Leave figure is either stupid or lying. Or very, very slippery. And if he can`t be trusted with plain, unassailable facts, then what can he be trusted with?
    If the UK leaves the EU, it will be run by the likes of Gove. If this is what people want, then that’s fine. It’s democracy in action.
    Meanwhile, across the pond…

  • The problem with the whole debate is that they all massage the truth to make their side sound better. It doesn’t mention the rebate Tony Blair gave away above, just the rebate Thatcher negotiated. This article is from 2013 but talks about the future of the declining rebate negotiated in 2005 but strangely never mentioned by the remain campaign in 2016. http://forbritain.org/140518_eu_rebate_blair.pdf The misrepresentation of facts by both sides means that people will have to go with their gut feelings on this issue, and is likely to leave many people even more disaffected with politics than before, regardless of the outcome.

  • Well lets leave and tell Germany France Italy Spain and Sweden that they can’t sell their cars here without huge duties. Lets see what kind of deal they offer us then

  • If the “Leave” people are willing to promulgate such an egregious and obvious LIES they cannot be trusted in any other matter.

    It would be a very foolish person who chooses to vote for a proposition whose position is based so greatly upon LIES.


    However, it grieves me to observe that the “corrected” figures above (based upon simple arithmetic) don’t accurately add up either!!!!

    As far as I can work it out, based upon the figures provided and 52.14286 weeks per year, the final figure for what we pay seems to be £138.75m per week, not £120m as claimed in the “pigs might fly” picture (which I presume is based upon the £6.3b figure derived in the calculation).

    It makes my heart sink that the “Remain” organisation appears unable to do simple arithmetic – please correct it so that it is unambiguously unassailable in its correctness. The fact that one cannot replicate whatever arithmetic was applied unnecessarily weakens what should be an absolutely cast-iron fact.

    I don’t know how you get the £19b figure either – £350 x 52.14286 = £18.25b – please, I beg you, correct these obvious errors.

    I know that a corrected answer does not change the burden of the case against “Leave” but PLEASE make the arithmetic of your case internally self consistent.

  • There are Liars,damn liars and then there are politicians .most of whom receive payment or pensions or have vested financial interests in europe. Why the hell woud they want to stop the gravy train ???