The British government spends almost half of its budgeted revenue on welfare benefits, pensions and the National Health Service. This does not include what is spent by local authorities to cover responsibilities that have been delegated to them.

According to the British chancellor of the Exchequer, at the end of November last year, the annual cost of the welfare state had reached £165.5 billion. This was 12 times its cost in 1948, when the then Labour government enacted measures to cover recommendations made by Sir William Beveridge during the war — to ensure "freedom from want."

In 1948 the cost of benefits amounted to 10.4 percent of Britain's income. In 2012 they represented 24.2 percent.