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How much does the UK government give in grants? Updated 2021


On Thursday 25 March 2021, 16 central UK Government departments published their 2019-20 grants data in the 360Giving Data Standard, and updated data about their 2017-18 grants.


The new data covers 52,682 general grants that were active in 2019-20 worth a total of £31.8bn awarded to 22,140 recipients.

At the same time, data for active grants during the 2017-18 period, which were originally published in November 2018, have been republished with changes to make the data valid 360Giving data. These changes allow 23,093 grants awarded by 15 central government departments, worth a total of £10.8bn, to be included in the 360Giving dataset.

This now brings the number of grants published by the UK government to over 122,000, worth a total of £77 billion. This data is now available to explore in our free search-engine for grants data, GrantNav, via this filtered search.

Which departments have shared data?

  2017-18 2018-19 2019-20
Department Name No of grants Total awarded (£m) No of grants Total awarded (£m) No of grants Total awarded (£m)
Total for all Departments 23,093 £10,823.5 43,783 £30,830.7 52,682 £31,804.2
Department for Education 237 £651.7 16,708 £3,326.7 21,765 £4,330.6
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy 10,586 £2,232.2 8,896 £7,468.9 6,908 £5,888.1
Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government 3,866 £4,078.1 3,546 £7,410.1 5,487 £8,522.5
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 1,107 £324.3 3,356 £333.1 4,795 £461.3
Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport 2,976 £706.9 4,656 £1,172.7 3,511 £892.4
HM Revenue & Customs 8 £1.7 8 £1.7 3,063 £22.3
Home Office 1,029 £644.7 1,189 £804.2 1,610 £1,109.4
Department for International Development none none 1,512 £8,354.3 1,486 £8,045.8
Foreign and Commonwealth Office 767 £73.4 1,036 £120.5 1,058 £125.9
Department for Work and Pensions 129 £683.9 218 £544.0 850 £534.9
Department for Transport 632 £1,028.6 956 £1,012.4 560 £1,470.0
Cabinet Office 598 £54.2 438 £20.2 483 £34.8
Ministry of Defence 475 £134.3 408 £60.9 341 £76.5
Ministry of Justice 454 £33.3 465 £34.1 338 £32.8
Department of Health and Social Care 121 £162.6 199 £153.7 273 £247.3
Department for International Trade 108 £13.7 192 £13.1 154 £9.5

In the government grants data, ‘Award Date’ refers to when the grant was originally awarded and ‘Amount Awarded’ refers to the single year value for the grant period. The majority of grants have a date which falls in the correct year (often using the first day of the financial year), however there are grants appearing with dates as far back as October 1998.

Also included in GrantNav are the 3,351 grants from the 2016-17 period awarded by the Department for Transport and Ministry of Justice, which have appeared in GrantNav since January 2018.

What type of organisations are receiving government grants?

Organisation type No of recipients Total awarded (£m) No of grants
Unknown 21,027 £54,756.2 62,640
School/Education/Learning provider 5,222 £11,116.6 35,455
Registered Company (including Community Interest Company) 7,080 £6,213.3 15,578
Registered Charity 2,217 £1,370.9 5,828
Community amateur sports club 55 £1.5 57
Total 35,601 £73,458.4 119,558

There are over 35,000 distinct entities appearing in the three years of data that has been shared. The easiest and most accurate way to find the type of organisations receiving grants is by looking at the identifiers – for example the charity, company, or other official registration number included in the data. From this analysis we can see that nearly 20% of recipients are registered companies, nearly 15% are education establishments and only 6% are registered charities. However, over 50% of the recipients have no official registration number included in the data, representing 75% of the value of the grants, so a major part of the picture is missing. Some of these are likely to be where the registers are not publicly available. For example excepted charities like charitable service funds of the armed forces and churches, and charities with a turnover of under £5,000 might be registered with HMRC but do not appear on any UK charity regulator register. Others might be where no identifier data has been collected so “unknown” will include organisations that could have other types of registrations.

Identifiers are important as they help to identify unique organisations and support more effective analysis of data to understand the pattern of grantmaking better. The government has published an action plan to improve the recording of identifiers for future grants data collection.

In 2019 we were able to carry out analysis on government grants data using the recipient name to guess the organisation type for 88% of grants. We will run this process again to help fill in some more of these blanks.

Taking a deep dive into the data

Now that we have three years of data about UK government grants, we will be carrying out further research. We’ll do a deep dive to understand who, how much and what the UK government is funding through grants.

Where to find further information about government data

Further information and statistics about government grantmaking and how the data has been compiled have been provided alongside the 2019-2020 and 2018-2019 grants data publications. For the 2017-18 grants data you can find some further information and departmental statements included in the grants file itself, available to download here.

You can also read our other blogs about government grants data: