A curious case of ignorance (or possibly deliberate omission) by our main news outlets who, with the exception of The Spectator, seem to have completely missed the ONS announcement (pdf) yesterday that UK public sector net debt now stands at an eye watering 154.9% of GDP with the inclusion of the debts of Lloyds and RBS (emphasis mine) :
The Office for National Statistics and HM Treasury jointly publishes monthly estimates of the Public Sector Finances (PSF). The PSF release published on the 25 January 2011 included, for the first time, complete data for the Lloyds Banking Group (LBG) and the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).
The classification of RBS and LBG to the public sector has a significant impact on public sector finance statistics.
Provisional estimates of the public finances show that the public sector had in December 2010:
• current budget deficit of £11.8 billion including interventions
• current budget deficit of £13.5 billion excluding interventions
• net borrowing of £15.5 billion including interventions
• net borrowing of £16.8 billion excluding interventions
and at the end of December 2010:
• net debt of £2,322.7 billion including interventions, equivalent to 154.9 per cent of gross domestic product
• net debt of £889.1 billion excluding interventions, equivalent to 59.3 per cent of gross domestic product
Now, I can usually find some link to articles after playing around with search terms for a little while in google but in this case I have drawn a complete blank with the exception of The Spectator :
It’s not just the growth figures, you know. Today, the Office for National Statistics also released its latest estimates for the state of the public finances. Among the headline findings was a crumb of consolation for the Treasury: it is on track to meet its borrowing target for the financial year.
But that’s by the by when compared to this other snippet from the ONS release: our national debt went up by £1,300 billion in December. Don’t worry, though – it’s not really as terrible as all that sounds. What’s happened is that the human calculators have finally worked out how to account for Lloyds and RBS on the public balance sheet. This isn’t new debt. It’s simply a grand liability that wasn’t included in the official statistics until now. The effect has been to add £1.3 trillion to what is called “Public Sector Net Debt including financial interventions”.
Included in their report are two handy graphs showing the scale of Labours debt splurge and the effect of the recent additions :
The second graph shows the same debt but with the addition of firstly Brandford & Bingley and Northern Rock (the little step up) and finally RBS and Lloyds debt (the huge spike up).
Granted, these new figures are total debt and ignore the assets of both banking groups but who can really say how healthy banking assets are these days with Quantitive Easing and low interest rates allowing the banks to generate cash to cover their losses?
I imagine its either a case of hiding this bad news behind the shocking GDP figures also released yesterday or more simply that no one really cares.
If anyone can find a link to the story in the MSM (other than The Spectator) then please feel free to comment but, unless I have missed something really obvious, the story is just not out there at all.