“From the unacceptable level of debt we inherited — debt at 44 per
cent of national income — I forecast debt in the coming year will fall
to 30.3 per cent and in the following years I project 29.6, 29.7, 29.9
and 30 per cent successively. . . putting Britain in a far stronger
position to deal with the ups and downs of the economic cycle”
— Gordon Brown, March 2001
Brown lied then, and Brown continues to lie to you today. DK writes today of how the public sector debt is just continuing to rise, as it has done from the day that Gordon Brown took the reigns of the economy.
As the Libertarian Party
move closer to publishing our first policy (it's a cracker—you'll love
it), the size of the public sector debt is vexing us somewhat. We don't
like public sector debt at all, and we'd really like to reduce it. But
before we can work out how to do that, we need to know what the public
sector debt actually is.
How fortunate, then, that Burning Our Money is prepared to take the time to work it out.
We start with the official National Debt—Brown's figure, as published by the Office for National Statistics and charted above. When last sighted (figures up to Dec 2007), that was £536.5 billion, or 37.7% of GDP. So still within Brown's 40% rule.
We first need to add PFI debt.
According to HM Treasury, its discounted present value is now £91bn,
but since that ignores this year's new commitments and all payments
beyond 2031-32, we'll round it up to £100 bn (see this blog), of which a mere £5bn has been counted in by the ONS.
Then we have the cost of decommissioning our old nuclear power stations. That's an explicit taxpayer liability we reckon comes in at around £70bn (see this blog).
And don't forget Northern Rock's £100bn debt, now formally added to the public sector balance sheet by the ONS, even though they haven't yet crunched the precise numbers (see this blog).
Add in Network Rail's debt at around £21bn, all fully guaranteed by taxpayers but excluded from the government's balance sheet.
The grand total is £1,847.5bn.
Or 130% of GDP.
Or £74 grand of public sector debt hanging round the neck of every single household in Britain.
PS Even our £1.85 trillion figure excludes one of the really scary numbers. As we've blogged before,
if we include the commitment to pay those totally unfunded state
pensions, the total debt figure increases to around £9 trillion. Or
£360 grand for every household.
I don't have any stock phrases for that. It's just too big.