UK debt soars to £2.1 trillion – 99.5% of GDP

The UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) said on Tuesday that public sector net debt rose by £301.6 billion in the first eight months of the financial year to reach almost £2.1 trillion at the end of November 2020, which is around 99.5% of GDP.

This was the highest debt to GDP ratio since the financial year ending 1962.

The ONS said the UK’s public sector net borrowing in the first eight months of this financial year (April to November 2020) is estimated to have been £240.9 billion — £188.6 billion more than in the same period last year and the highest public sector borrowing in any April to November period since records began in 1993.

In November alone, public sector net borrowing is estimated to have been £31.6 billion — £26 billion more than in November 2019, which is both the highest November borrowing and the third-highest borrowing in any month since monthly records began in 1993.

“Year-to-date borrowing now stands at £241 billion, far exceeding the pre-virus annual record set at the peak of the financial crisis (£158 billion),” said the UK’s Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR).

“With a sharp resurgence in virus cases and the introduction of further health restrictions, prospects for the rest of the year remain highly uncertain.”

On the financing of the UK debt, the ONS said: “Up to the end of November, the DMO (Debt Management Office) issued £369 billion in gilts (76 per cent of the £485.5 billion it plans to issue in 2020-21).

“Net of redemptions, gilt issuance totalled £304 billion over that period.

“By the same point, the Bank of England had purchased some £308 billion of gilts (out of a total of planned additional purchases of £450 billion).

“So, in effect, the Bank has purchased £62 billion less from the private and overseas sectors than the DMO has issued (but only £24 billion less on a net basis) …”