(Not quite) the whole story

December 06, 2011 1:26 PM

The Treasury has recently published the Whole of Government accounts for 2010, which provide consolidated financial information for over 1,500 public sector organisations. This is the first time that such a detailed document has been put together and is a positive step towards greater transparency in how taxpayers' money is spent.

Perhaps the most worrying figure in the report is the UK has a liability of £2.4 trillion - the amount of money that taxpayers are currently committed to paying out if there was no change in government policy. This is a staggering sum - equal to 170 per cent of GDP. Even if the government sold off every asset it had, from the Royal Navy’s ships to the road network, we would only be able to pay off less than half this liability.

It's a stark reminder of the challenge facing the government. The deficit is equal to 92 per cent of the public sector wage bill. The net public service pension liability (not including state pensions) is over one trillion pounds.

There are still many organisations not included in the report, perhaps most notable the banks in ‘temporary’ public ownership and various transport organisations, so the total size of the state is yet bigger than the report suggests. However, they may be included in future releases to give a more representative picture.

There is a huge amount of information presented in this report so it is well worth a look, whether you’re interested in pensions, the cost of services or simply curious to see where your money goes.The Treasury has recently published the Whole of Government accounts for 2010, which provide consolidated financial information for over 1,500 public sector organisations. This is the first time that such a detailed document has been put together and is a positive step towards greater transparency in how taxpayers' money is spent.

Perhaps the most worrying figure in the report is the UK has a liability of £2.4 trillion - the amount of money that taxpayers are currently committed to paying out if there was no change in government policy. This is a staggering sum - equal to 170 per cent of GDP. Even if the government sold off every asset it had, from the Royal Navy’s ships to the road network, we would only be able to pay off less than half this liability.

It's a stark reminder of the challenge facing the government. The deficit is equal to 92 per cent of the public sector wage bill. The net public service pension liability (not including state pensions) is over one trillion pounds.

There are still many organisations not included in the report, perhaps most notable the banks in ‘temporary’ public ownership and various transport organisations, so the total size of the state is yet bigger than the report suggests. However, they may be included in future releases to give a more representative picture.

There is a huge amount of information presented in this report so it is well worth a look, whether you’re interested in pensions, the cost of services or simply curious to see where your money goes.

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