Cost of delivering 2016 EU Referendum published

Costing information

The cost of delivering the 2016 referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union, including details for each of the 382 counting areas across the UK and Gibraltar, is published today by the Electoral Commission.

The cost for delivering the 2016 referendum was £129.1 million.This figure includes:

  • The cost of administering the poll – including the running of over 40,000 polling stations, issuing and opening postal votes, and the counting of votes – totalling £94.5 million.
  • Statutory grants to the two designated lead campaigners totalling £1.2 million.
  • The delivery costs for the two designated lead campaigners to send a mailing to each elector or household in each referendum area across the UK, as provided for in law. This totalled almost £25.4 million.
  • The cost of a UK-wide public awareness campaign undertaken by the Electoral Commission to raise awareness of the poll and provide information on how to take part, totalling £6 million.

The final settlement of all cost claims from Counting Officers across the UK has enabled us to collate and confirm the costs of delivering the referendum.

Read our report, which contains a detailed breakdown of the costs associated with the delivery of the referendum. This includes data for the costs for each of the Regional Counting Officers and Counting Officers.


For more information contact the Electoral Commission press office:

Extra notes

Notes to editors

  • The Electoral Commission is the independent body which oversees elections and regulates political finance in the UK. We work to promote public confidence in the democratic process and ensure its integrity by:

    • enabling the delivery of free and fair elections and referendums, focusing on the needs of electors and addressing the changing environment to ensure every vote remains secure and accessible
    • regulating political finance – taking proactive steps to increase transparency, ensure compliance and pursue breaches
    • using our expertise to make and advocate for changes to our democracy, aiming to improve fairness, transparency and efficiency

The Commission was set up in 2000 and reports to the UK and Scottish Parliaments.

  • The funding allocation for the EU Referendum followed the existing framework for funding elections established by the UK Government. Under this framework the Cabinet Office calculated a Maximum Recoverable Amount (MRA) for each Counting Officer (CO) and Regional Counting Officer (RCO) within which they could allocate resources as they saw fit, provided that sums spent were necessary for the efficient and effective conduct of the referendum.
  • The Chief Counting Officer at the EU Referendum appointed eleven Regional Counting Officers (RCOs) for each of the electoral regions in Great Britain. The RCOs were responsible for co-ordinating the planning and administration of the poll across their electoral region and for managing the collation of the local totals into a total for the electoral region. Counting Officers (COs) were personally responsible for the conduct of the referendum. The role of the CO was to ensure that the referendum was administered effectively in their voting area. This included managing the conduct of the poll, counting the votes and transmitting the local area totals to the RCO. In Northern Ireland, the CO for the Northern Ireland voting area was the Chief Electoral Officer for Northern Ireland.
  • The European Union Referendum (Counting Officers’ and Regional Counting Officers’ Charges) Regulations 2016 set out the Maximum Recoverable Amounts that RCOs and COs could recover for their costs in running the referendum. This included both their personal services in delivering those roles and the expenses they incurred in administering the poll.