Ahead of anti-austerity protests this weekend, new analysis by the TaxPayers' Alliance today exposes the size of Britain's real national debt and charts its growth since 2010. The picture that emerges is highly troubling and underscores the urgency of the need to repair the public finances.
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.
Among the key findings, drawn from an analysis of official sources and independent research, are:
- 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, and now sits at around five times Britain's GDP
- 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.
Jonathan Isaby, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said:
"Despite the clarion calls of vocal protesters, the Chancellor must push ahead aggressively with his deficit reduction plan so that we can finally begin to pay back this extraordinary debt.
"There is no such thing as borrowed money, just deferred taxation. It would be nothing short of immoral for today's politicians to simply hand over this eye-watering credit card bill to the next generation, and they must push on with spending reductions so that Britain might live within its means once again.
"This Government was elected on a mandate to balance Britain's books. As this remarkable research shows, it is imperative that they don't waver from the task."