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Britain's true debt is valued at £3,800,000,000,000

By Jonathan Isaby

Picture 3 09-43-23 The Independent today splashes with an illustration of the challenge facing David Cameron and George Osborne in terms of the country's debt.

The paper reports:

"The true scale of Britain's national indebtedness was laid bare by the Office for National Statistics yesterday: almost £4 trillion, or £4,000bn, about four times higher than previously acknowledged. It quantifies the burden that will be placed on future generations, and it is the ONS's first attempt to draw together the "off-balance-sheet" liabilities that have been accumulated by the state. The figures imply a huge "intergenerational transfer" – broadly in favour of today's "baby boomer" generation at the expense of younger people and future generations."

The figure has been calculated by including the public sector's main liabilities as cited by the ONS:

  • Future payments for the state old age pension: £1.1trn to £1.4trn
  • Unfunded public sector pensions for teachers, NHS staff and civil servants: £770bn to £1.2trn
  • Payments under private finance initiative contracts: £200bn
  • Contingent liabilities (eg bank deposit guarantees): £500bn
  • Nuclear power plant decommissioning: £45bn
  • Impact of financial sector interventions: £1trn to £1.5trn

The paper refers to all this on its front page as a "toxic legacy for our children and grandchildren".

More depressing details here.


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