Even more than in previous elections, the appropriate size of the state − measured by public spending as a share of national income − is a key issue. This briefing note describes the trends in public spending since Labour came to office in 1997. Section 2 compares the levels of public spending under Labour to date with historical levels and spending in other OECD countries. Section 3 compares the growth in the main components of public spending seen under Labour, both before and after the start of the financial crisis, with growth seen under previous governments. Section 4 considers productivity in public service provision, and how the increased spending under the Labour government compares with changes in measured output.