The government is set to spend twice as much on Brexit administration as its flagship Levelling-up Fund.
A total of £12 billion has been set aside for departments and devolved administrations to help them cope with the logistics of leaving the European Union. The new figure was published on Thursday, in the government’s annual statement on European Union spending.
The document also confirmed that government departments had to tap billions of taxpayers’ money for no-deal preparations, even though a final agreement was secured. This was because the deal was confirmed just days before the transition exit date at the end of 2020.
The cost of Brexit administration, which has grown by nearly £3 billion in the past year, comes on the same day as Boris Johnson laid out his vision for helping poorer regions of the UK catch up with wealthier ones.
Some of the increase in Brexit spending was due to the £750 million allocated in July last year, aimed at preparing ports and wider border infrastructure for additional checks on goods following the UK’s exit from the EU.
The £12 billion figure dwarfs the £4.8 billion allocated to the Levelling Up Fund, of which £3.6 billion will go towards British towns via the Towns Fund.
Mr Johnson sought to defend his speech after it was criticised for its lack of detail saying it was at least “the skeleton” of a plan.
Separately, economists said a comparison in the prime minister’s speech with Germany’s efforts to share prosperity across its east and west after unification came with challenges. Germany has spent more than two trillion euros on the effort, and there is still a marked difference in employment between the regions, three decades after reunification.