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Bill to Norfolk taxpayers for general election could top £1m

PUBLISHED: 13:06 06 November 2019 | UPDATED: 13:36 06 November 2019

The bill to taxpayers for next month's general election could top £1m. Pic: Ian Burt.

The bill to taxpayers for next month's general election could top £1m. Pic: Ian Burt.

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Taxpayers in Norfolk could be hit with a bill of more than £1m for next month's general election.

Across the whole of the East of England it is estimated the bill will cost up to £6.7m.

On a national level, data illustrates a budget increase of 16pc between the general election 2015 and the snap election that followed in 2017, sending the overall budget up to £143m.

If this trend were to continue national election costs could reach a staggering £166m.

Though political parties are responsible for operating campaign costs themselves, much of the costs incurred by the process of polling itself are the responsibility of the taxpayer, via the government's Consolidated Fund.

As minister for the constitution, then Norwich North MP Chloe Smith produced a report last year on the costs of the 2015 election.

It showed constituencies are billed on expenses divided into polling station costs, postal vote costs, poll card costs, count costs, returning officer's services miscellaneous costs and returning officer's services.

A report on the 2017 election found the maximum figure Norfolk and Waveney could spend was just under £1.5m.

While a report on the total costs claimed in the last election is yet to be published, a written release from former minister for the constitution Chris Skidmore MP found a total of £98m was used to run the polls and a further £42m on materials in 2017.

It is expected this December's election will be the most expensive ever for numerous reasons. The polls will stand alone rather than be run in coordination with local elections - this is likely to make overall costs higher.

Professor Toby James, head of politics and public policy at the University of East Anglia and founder of ElectoralManagement.com, insisted "democracy should not be delivered on the cheap".

"People may intuitively look at the figures involved in running elections and think that more could be better spent elsewhere," he said.

"Elections, however, are the key moment where citizens can set the future direction for the country, deciding how public services are managed and whether to leave or remain in the EU."

"There is certainly a need, however, to make expenditure on elections more transparent so that can ensure cost-effectiveness and best practices are being shared."

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