UK debt tops £2.74 trillion, almost 100% of GDP

UK central government debt has risen to £2.743 trillion, or 99.8% of gross domestic product — the highest percentage since 1961 — according to latest statistics from the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS).

“Public sector net debt excluding public sector banks was provisionally estimated at 99.8% of gross domestic product (GDP) at the end of May 2024; this was 3.7 percentage points more than at the end of May 2023, and remains at levels last seen in the early 1960s …” said the ONS.

UK central government borrowed £122.1 billion in the financial year ending (FYE) March 2024. This was £5.8 billion less than the £127.9 billion borrowed in the FYE March 2023, but £8 billion more than the £114.1 billion forecast by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR).

Borrowing was £15 billion in May 2024, £800 million more than in May 2023 and the third highest May borrowing since monthly records began.

Borrowing in the financial year-to-May 2024 was £33.5 billion, £400 million more than in the same two-month period a year earlier and the fourth highest year-to-May borrowing since monthly records began.

Thomas Pugh, economist at RSM UK, said: “Given that the current tax and spending plans look extremely difficult to fulfil, the new government is going to have to raise more in taxes, or borrow more.

“Simply keeping non-protected departments budgets stable in real terms will add an extra £20 billion to government spending.”