UK public debt to rise by over £100bn

March 01, 2014 - 5:17:48 am
LONDON: The official measure of Britain’s trillion-pound government debt will rise by more than £100bn ($167bn) in September, as part of a major revamp of the politically sensitive numbers by the country’s statistics agency.

Some of the changes are due to new European Union statistical rules, which mean the not-for-profit body which operates Britain’s rail network will be classified as a public rather than a private corporation.

But the bulk are an attempt to clean up how Britain’s public accounts have been presented since the financial crisis, which saw the purchase of big stakes in Royal Bank of Scotland  and Lloyds Banking Group, as well as of over £375bn of government bonds by the Bank of England.

The changes are almost wholly in line with proposals the Office for National Statistics (ONS) made in December, when one of its officials described the existing statistics as “no longer fit for guidance, no longer fit for purpose”.

Data in the old format will cease to be published after April 2015. The ONS plans to replace its current headline measure of Britain’s total outstanding borrowing — public sector net debt excluding financial sector interventions — with a new measure, public sector net debt excluding banking groups.