Wednesday, 14 July 2010

We Owe How Much?

Today, The Independent ran an interesting article on the true scale of the debt inherited from the last government. It points out that, if you include all public sector liabilities, total debt is £3.8 trillion - around four times higher than the official measure. For policy wonks and bean counters, the article is based on ONS data, available here.

That means total UK government debt over five times the cost to Britain of World War 2 (in today's money). The Indy article also estimates that a failure to cut the budget deficit now would leave the next generation with an additional tax bill equivalent to £200,000 (over a lifetime) just to enjoy the same level of public services as current and previous generations.

Public debate on the size of the state, public spending and taxes has tended to focus on the 'fairness' between different sections of our society. The scale of the debt legacy will increasingly re-focus attention on fairness between different generations of our society. It poses a very basic, human, question: will we leave our children a country that is a better or worse place to live ?


Richard Tebboth said...

A significant element are the public sector pension liabilities of some £1,177 billion. This amounts to c. £20,000 for every person in the UK and equates to 85% of GDP - three times that in North America.

Reform is inevitable & overdue.

Given that the MPs' pension scheme is one of the most generous this is clearly a situation for 'Leadership by Example'.

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