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Thursday, 18 June 2009

Up a creek, no paddle

So this is how it looks this morning.

  • Public sector net borrowing was £19.9bn in May, double the level of one year ago.
  • The total outstanding government debt has risen to £774.8bn, £150bn more than one year ago, and equal to 54.7% of UK GDP.
  • Capital Economics estimated that the total public borrowing was now on course to reach £200bn, or 14% of GDP.
  • Corporation tax receipts in May down 27% year on year.
  • VAT revenues down 18%.
  • Income tax receipts down 11%.

So how bad is that? In a word, appalling. Do the maths. Public sector borrowing is just shy of £20 billion per month in an economy with an annual GDP of £1,416 billion, or £118 billion a month.

Let's say the government share of spending is near as dammit half that figure of £59 billion per month. So £19.9 billion of that £59 billion about 34% is not paid for by taxes but has been stuck on the national credit card.

And that doesn't take into account the growth in unfunded public sector pensions, which is growing at £3 billion per month or the off-balance sheet liabilities that are growing with new PFI projects.

Heavy borrowing, but on a lesser scale, might be understandable in a developing nation with huge capital requirements for investment with a likely future payoff, but in a mid-sized post-industrial nation with limited growth prospects, expiring natural resources and few competitive advantages, it is a sign of impending disaster.

£1 in every 6 that is being spent in this country this year is being funded by extra government borrowing with no particular reason to think it will be repaid. Just think about that the next time you are in the supermarket. One person in 6 shouldn't be there, one car in 6 shouldn't be on the road, one commuter in 6 hasn't really earned their train fare. More importantly, one third of all our doctors, teachers, nurses, policemen are paid for by the thrift of other nations.


Demetrius said...

Busto, bustas, bustat, bustamus, bustatis, bustant.

massimo said...

Where have you got your figures from? Surely this would have made the news if it was this disatrous...

Alex said...


Drowned out by MP's expenses and Fred Goodwin's pension.

The BBC won't make a big fuss for obvious reasons.