Appropriations provide the authority from Parliament to spend in a particular area. As the appropriation amounts represent an upper limit of that authority, the actual level of spending may differ. This page outlines the level of spending in appropriations that received funding from COVID-19 response and recovery decisions.
Information on actual spending against appropriations is provided to the Treasury by agencies. It is reported at an appropriation level, meaning that if funding for a COVID-19 initiative went into an existing appropriation (as opposed to an appropriation established specifically in relation to a COVID-19 initiative), the Treasury cannot provide exact data on actual spending. For these initiatives, estimated spend has been determined using overall spending patterns for existing appropriations.
The difference between the amount appropriated and the amount spent represents funding that was allocated but ended up not being required. There are a number of reasons why actual spending could be lower than the appropriated funding; for example, due to initiatives costing less than originally expected, services having lower than expected demand, or delays in delivering the initiative. In addition, agencies manage spending against appropriations in a way that aims to ensure spending does not exceed the appropriated amount.
Where appropriated expenditure is not used by the end of the financial year, the authority to spend lapses, unless Ministers agree to transfer that spending into a future financial year. Some of the lapsed spending was explicitly returned to the CRRF in 2020 and 2021, using estimated figures for how much had been allocated but not spent, without any associated adjustments to appropriations.
Estimated and actual expenditure
An overview of the actual and estimated spending over 2019/20 to 2021/22 is provided in the tables below.
Actual spending is provided for COVID-specific appropriations.
For initiatives that were allocated to existing appropriations, spend has been estimated based on analysis of the amount spent across each of these appropriations. The Treasury has calculated the percentage spent for each appropriation that received funding for a COVID-19 response and recovery initiative compared to its appropriated amount for each financial year. Using the percentage spent for each appropriation, we then calculated the standard deviation spread across all of these appropriations and applied this to spend at the Vote and year levels. The results are presented as a range to recognise that initiative level spend is unlikely to directly match the expenditure pattern of the appropriation it went into, but it is likely to fall within the standard range of the overall spending pattern across these appropriations.
Table 1 – Total COVID-19 spending by year
|COVID-19 specific appropriations (actual)||14,220||6,756||16,587||37,562|
|Existing appropriations (estimated)||1,598 – 1,966||4,224 – 5,557||3,311 – 4,481||9,133 – 12,004|
|Total||15,818 – 16,186||10,980 – 12,313||19,898 – 21,068||46,696 – 49,567|
Table 2 – Spent by Vote 2019/20 - 2021/22
|Total amount||COVID-19 specific appropriations||Pre-existing appropriations|
|Vote||Allocated $m||Actual spend $m||Est. spend $m|
|Social Development||24,745||19,380||1,963 – 2,481|
|Revenue||10,904||6,483||121 – 140|
|Health||8,418||4,543||1,856 – 2,099|
|Business, Science and Innovation||2,748||1,284||790 – 1,232|
|Finance||2,342||1,369||193 – 634|
The Wage Subsidy (Vote Social Development) and Small Business Cashflow (Vote Revenue) Schemes are two of the initiatives with the largest difference between what was appropriated and what was spent. The unused expenditure across these two schemes accounts for the majority of unused funding in relation to COVID-19 specific appropriations. These appropriations were allocated enough funding to ensure access by all those who were eligible. For the Small Business Cashflow Scheme the amounts included in Table 2 represent the gross amount that was available to businesses; not adjusted to reflect any forecasted or actual repayments.
Notes to this data:
- The allocated amounts reflect what is recorded in the funding decisions data release.
- Figures used to calculate percentage spent are based on the final amount that was appropriated for in that financial year less any approvals to transfer unused expenditure into future financial years.
Table 1 was updated on 14 June 2023 to reflect a correction made to the classification of an appropriation.
Data on the actual expenditure that went into new appropriations established specifically for a COVID-19 response and recovery initiative can be found at Reporting on COVID-19 Specific Appropriations.
Funding in 2022/23 and beyond
Funding decisions included expenditure that is expected to be appropriated into years beyond 2019/20 to 2021/22 (what is reported on above). These amounts are likely to have changed. Ministers may have agreed, or may agree, to change the level of spending in an appropriation for various reasons, including transferring spending to different financial years to reflect a delay in spending, moving spending between appropriations, or reducing appropriations to support a savings initiative.
For new appropriations established specifically for a COVID-19 response and recovery initiative, $9.9 billion remains in 2022/23 and outyears as at the Budget Economic and Fiscal Update 2023.
For initiatives where funding went into existing appropriations, $10.8 billion was allocated in 2022/23 and outyears.
For tagged contingencies, $0.6 billion remains available to be drawn down (a decision made to appropriate the funding).