Shortly after 1700 this afternoon the TPA’s debt counter rolled past the One Trillion mark. That’s one thousand billion pounds, ladies and gentleman, a one followed by a dozen zero’s or, for those who remember such things from school day maths, 1 x 10 to the 12th.


That is how much UK Plc officially owes. Unofficial estimates – which include PFI costs and pension liabilities – put it at over 4 TIMES this. It is, by any count, a heady sum and one so vast that it becomes meaningless as we simply do not think in such numbers on a daily basis. Indeed, I am reminded of my dad talking about his work as an insurance underwriter in the oil and gas industry:

“We had to knock three zero’s off just to make the figures sound realistic.”

Let me then try to put the colossal figure into perspective.

  • It is over 81,074,069 times the wages of someone doing a 40 hour week at the minimum wage of £5.93/hour
  • It is over 38,610,038 times the average salary for a full time employee of £25,900
  • It is over 740,740 times the £1.35 million salary that Bob Diamond will earn as the CEO of Barclays once he takes over the job in March
  • It is over 833 times the £1.2 billion that Philip Green paid his family in 2005
  • It is over 166 times the £6 billion tax bill that certain individuals would have us believe Vodafone avoided
  • It is over 142 times the collective bonus pool of £7 billion expected to be paid to bank staff in 2011
  • It is over 7 times the approx £130 billion paid to RBS and HBOS in order to bail them out
  • It is 5 times the amount of money that we have created out of thin air in the last two years
  • It is almost 1.5 times what the government plans to spend in the year 2010/11

But, for those looking for some crumbs of comfort, it is only about 70% of our current GDP. On second thoughts it is not that comforting, is it?


  1. Demelza says:

    It’s in dollars rather than sterling, but a handy visual reckoner.


    • Misanthrope Girl says:

      If I thought that they’d figure it out, I’d wave it under the noses of the idiots behind uk uncut but I have a feeling I’d be wasting my time.