HM Treasury

Economic data & tools

Public Spending by function

Government spend money on?

The Government spends money on a wide range of functions, such as health, education and defence.

Functional categories

Functional categories are based on the UN Classification Of the Functions Of Government (COFOG), the international standard. Functional analyses differ from departmental spending analyses because they include local government as well as central government, and devolved authorities as well as English departments.

Not all public spending can be allocated to a function so an aggregate is defined called "expenditure on services". This is spending within Total Managed Expenditure (TME) that can be allocated by function. It covers most expenditure included in TME but excludes some accounting and other adjustments that cannot be allocated to a function. More information on expenditure on services can be found in Annex E of Public Expenditure Statistical Analyses (PESA) 2009.


TME outturns are published quarterly by ONS in the Public Sector Accounts. The central government components of TME can also be updated monthly as part of the public sector finance statistics release. Latest TME data (and its components) are available in the Public Finances Databank.

Public spending by function data are published annually in chapters 4 and 5 of Public Expenditure Statistical Analyses (PESA). Key public spending by function data are updated at 3 other times of the year through the Public Spending Annual Outturns News Release.  

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Interactive tables

The table below allows the user to change the presentation of the published tables to fit their own requirements. This interactive table covers the Tables 4.2, 5.4, 6.6, 7.4 and 8.4 which were published in PESA 09.

Interactive functional table with metadata (Excel file, 78KB)

Recent developments

The following document details the UN COFOG definitions, together with:

UN COFOG definitions (Excel 376KB)

The presentation of detailed function analysis has been brought into line with COFOG level 2. The differences in presentation are explained in the note below.

PESA 2005 included an historical series of public spending by function in Table 3.2. The methodology for producing the series is outlined in detail in a technical note.

The presentation since PESA 2004 differs from previous presentation of functional spending. The change in methodology was pre-announced on 10 March 2004 in a detailed technical note.

Some documents are available in Adobe Acrobat Portable Document Format (PDF). If you do not have Adobe Acrobat installed on your computer you can download the software free of charge from the Adobe website.

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