Friday, October 24, 2008

The Cost of Irresponsibility?

I wrote a short piece on Monday about the announcement of the UK's national debt figures for September 2008.

Since then, the Centre for Policy Studies have published a brief report by Conservative MP Brooks Newmark estimating that the cost of what's 'hidden' from the national debt figures - relating to unfunded public pensions liabilities, the full cost of PFI projects, Network Rail's debt and Bradford & Bingley's nationalisation - is much higher than the official figures.

They estimate that this figure is as high as £1,854bn, three times the official figures announced on Monday, or, including the further £500bn that's been promised for bank bailouts, £2,354bn.

In addition to Monday's figures, this has been broken down as being:

* £1,071bn on public pensions using the discount rate from the risk-free yield on index-linked government debt (as the government is not at risk of default),
* £30bn for Bradford & Bingley (using the justification that by being the second nationalisation in a year it is, by definition, not a 'one-off'),
* £20bn for Network Rail which the government would have to pay if the company failed; and
* £100bn for PFI projects - not including the ever-present risk of failure of PFI (this is a Tory pamphlet, so they don't want to suggest that private finance might be a bad thing!)

Including the banking bailout, this amounts to 161% of the UK GDP or £96,475 per household.

Perhaps Gordon shouldn't have been quite so quick to start pulling up figures about our GDP debt compared to other countries

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