British households are spending about $20 billion per year on drugs and prostitutes, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released on Tuesday.
British statisticians have estimated sales of illegal drugs and sexual services before, but this is the first time it has been officially added to figures on Britain’s economic spending.
Household spending, or what the ONS calls total household final consumption expenditure (HHFCE) was £12.33 billion ($20 billion) higher in 2012 because of “illegal activities,” primarily “narcotic drugs and prostitution,” the new report found.
The UK is not the only country adding illegal spending to its estimates. Italy’s national accounts will also be changed to reflect drugs and prostitution expenditure. But they will have to spend big to beat the UK: between 1997 and 2013, illegal activities have been added about 1.4% to overall British household spending.
In the second quarter, spending on drugs added £1.67bn, according to the ONS. That’s slightly more than the UK spent on wine and cider, which came in at £1.54bn for the same three-month period.