Gordon Brown claims that because UK debt levels are lower than other European countries he can run Greek-style deficits. This ignores all the debts that the taxpayer is on the hook for even if they are off the books. Local government pensions are just one example: Bloomberg is reporting that English local councils’ pension plans are underfunded by £65 billion – all off the books making it look as if the UK has lower debts than it really has.
Andrew Clare, professor of asset management at Cass Business School in London, has published research today confirming widely held fears, “Pension provision is one of the most pressing issues of our time … Unless drastic reform takes place, the black hole in this scheme will have to be funded by the underlying sponsor: the British taxpayer.”
Guido asked Gordon Brown (video above) about this very point back in October 2008, his disingenuous monotone answer is here. The national debt figures have been fiddled to also ignore the billions in PFI deals that are off the books but for which the taxpayer is on the hook. Not very credible to claim we have low national debt is it?