Since the financial crisis of 2007-08, Britain’s national debt has ballooned, placing an increasing burden on taxpayers and posing a serious risk to our future prosperity. The normal measure of the national debt, public sector net debt, swelled to around £1.5 trillion by the end of 2014-15. But our real national debt is much, much greater than this.
The real national debt extends far beyond the Government’s formal measurements. It also includes substantial liabilities in relation to unfunded public sector pensions, unfunded state pensions, the Private Finance Initiative (PFI), nuclear decommissioning and a number of other items including liabilities arising from the bank bail-outs.
Drawing on a wide range of official sources and independent analyses we have calculated the real national debt for every year since 2009-10:
- At the end of 2014-15, the real national debt stood at £8.6 trillion, over £320,000 for every single household in Britain.
- Since 2009-10, the debt has grown by £1 trillion, growing from £7.6 trillion up to £8.6 trillion in 2014-15, equivalent to around five times our GDP.
- Since 2009-10, liabilities arising from financial sector interventions have shrunk by £1 trillion. This means that debt ignoring financial interventions has grown by £2 trillion.
- The official national debt – the one quoted by the Chancellor in his budget – hugely understates taxpayer liabilities. The real national debt is almost six times larger than the official national debt.
- These figures may be underestimates. In addition to the debts we have examined, the public sector has a wide range of contingent liabilities
Notes and resources
4:20 PM 14, May 2018 James Price
3:34 PM 08, May 2018 Matt Gillow
8:44 AM 13, Apr 2018 Jan Zeber
2:44 PM 11, Apr 2018 Jan Zeber
11:23 AM 15, Mar 2018 Jan Zeber
5:25 PM 25, Jan 2018 Chloe Westley