Transparency in the Subsidy Control Bill: Lowering the reporting threshold


  • The Subsidy Control Bill (‘the Bill’) could make it easier for public authorities to provide economically damaging subsidies – by moving away from the European Union’s state aid process and reducing transparency requirements.

  • The Bill outlines principles that public authorities must follow when granting subsidies and disclosure requirements for when subsidies are provided.

  • The Bill only requires transparency (through publication in a database) if a subsidy is worth £500,000 or more pursuant to a pre-published scheme or £315,000 or more if not part of a scheme. It is estimated that this could allow £4 billion of subsidies to escape transparency.

  • There is a significant risk that billions of pounds in subsidies will escape public scrutiny and challenge and be wasteful or distortionary. A lower threshold for transparency requirements could help reduce this waste and increase democratic accountability, enable affected businesses to contest decisions, and lessen rent seeking and corruption.


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Matthew Lesh is the IEA's Director of Public Policy and Communications. He regularly appears on television and radio, and has written dozens of opinion and feature pieces for print and online publications such as The Times, The Telegraph and The Spectator. He has provided extensive commentary and written various papers and submissions about the Online Safety Bill. He is also a Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute and Institute of Public Affairs.