UK government debt and deficit: December 2021

Quarterly estimates of UK government debt and deficit.

This is the latest release. View previous releases

This is an accredited National Statistic. Click for information about types of official statistics.

Cyswllt:
Email Fraser Munro

Dyddiad y datganiad:
29 April 2022

Cyhoeddiad nesaf:
29 July 2022

1. Main points

  • UK general government gross debt was £2,382.8 billion at the end of 2021, equivalent to 102.8% of gross domestic product (GDP); this was 34.5 percentage points lower than the average debt of the G7 member states.

  • UK general government deficit (or net borrowing) was £187.4 billion in 2021, equivalent to 8.1% of GDP; this was 0.3 percentage points lower than the average deficit of the G7 member states.

  • The general government gross debt and deficit figures published here (for 1997 onwards) are fully consistent with those published in our Public sector finances, UK: February 2022 statistical bulletin, published on 22 March 2022.

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In this release, we present statistics for the general government sector. These are used for international comparisons and include central and local government only. The public sector finances release has a wider scope, adding data for other public sector bodies, including public corporations, public sector pensions and the Bank of England.

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2. Government debt

Latest comparison with the EU member states

Latest comparison with G7 member states

An international comparison of general government gross debt as a percentage of GDP can be found in our General government debt and deficit as percentage of GDP – Annex A.

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3. Government deficit

Latest comparison with the EU member states

Latest comparison with G7 member states

An international comparison of general government deficit as a percentage of GDP can be found in our General government debt and deficit as percentage of GDP – Annex A.

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4. UK government debt and deficit data

General government debt and deficit as percentage of GDP: Annex A
Dataset | Released 29 April 2022
International comparison of general government debt and deficit as percentage of GDP.

Government deficit and debt return
Dataset | Released 29 April 2022
Summary, reconciliation, and revisions information on UK government deficit and debt figures by calendar and financial year since the last publication.

General government main aggregates: ESA Table 2
Dataset | Released 29 April 2022
Breakdown of general government expenditure (both current and capital) and general government revenue, compiled according to the European System of Accounts.

General government quarterly non-financial accounts: ESA Table 25
Dataset | Released 29 April 2022
Breakdown of general government expenditure (both current and capital) and general government revenue, compiled according to the European System of Accounts.

General government quarterly financial accounts: ESA Table 27
Dataset | Released 29 April 2022
Complete set of quarterly financial accounts of the general government sector and its sub-sectors, compiled according to the European System of Accounts.

General government quarterly debt (Maastricht debt): ESA Table 28
Dataset | Released 29 April 2022
Summary of government debt on a quarterly basis, for general government and its sub-sectors, compiled according to the European System of Accounts.

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5. Glossary

General government

UK general government consists of two sub-sectors: central government and local government.

Debt

Debt represents the cumulative amount the general government sector owes to organisations in other UK sectors and overseas institutions, which is largely a result of government financial liabilities on the bonds (gilts) and Treasury bills it has issued.

Deficit

Deficit (or net borrowing) measures the gap between total revenue and total spending. A positive value indicates borrowing while a negative value indicates a surplus.

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6. Measuring the data

The UK government debt and deficit statistical bulletin is published quarterly in January, April, July and October each year. This is to coincide with when EU member states are required to report on their debt and deficit to the European Commission.

Revisions since previous publication

The revisions between releases are usually the result of improved departmental (and other government bodies’) data replacing previous estimates.

The Government deficit and debt return table presents the revisions to our main aggregates since the last publication of the UK government debt and deficit return (published on 31 January 2022). These revisions are consistent with revisions incorporated within our February 2022 Public sector finances statistical bulletin.

Our public sector finances revisions policy provides information on when users of the statistics published in the Public sector finances and in our UK government debt and deficit statistical bulletins should expect to see methodological and data-related revisions.

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7. Strengths and limitations

To supplement this release, we publish an accompanying methodological guide and Quality and Methodology Information outlining the strengths, limitations, and appropriate uses of government finance statistics.

Economic statistics governance after EU exit

Following the UK’s exit from the EU, new governance arrangements are being put in place that will support the adoption and implementation of high-quality standards for UK economic statistics. These governance arrangements will promote international comparability and add to the credibility and independence of the UK’s statistical system.

At the centre of this new governance framework will be the new National Statistician’s Committee for Advice on Standards for Economic Statistics (NSCASE).

Further information about NSCASE can be found in National Statistician’s Committee for Advice on Standards for Economic Statistics (NSCASE) – UK Statistics Authority article.

On 14 February 2022, the UK Statistical authority announced Professor Martin Weale had been appointed as Chair of NSCASE.

Comparability with monthly public sector finances

The general government debt and deficit figures published in this statistical bulletin (for the time period 1997 onwards) are fully consistent with those published in our Public sector finances, UK: February 2022 statistical bulletin on 22 March 2022.

There are two main differences between the headline debt and deficit measures published in the public sector finances and those published in this bulletin.

Firstly, this bulletin includes only the debt and deficit of central and local government bodies. The public sector finances’ measures also include the debt and deficit of other public sector bodies, including public non-financial corporations and the Bank of England.

Secondly, this bulletin reports gross debt, while the focus of the public sector finances is net debt. Gross debt represents only the financial liabilities (debt securities, loans and deposits) of central and local government, while net debt deducts any liquid assets (official reserve assets and other cash or cash-like assets) from these financial liabilities.

Comparability with gross domestic product (GDP)

GDP data at market prices used to calculate government gross debt and deficit as a ratio of GDP are fully consistent with those published in our release, GDP quarterly national accounts, UK: October to December 2021, on 31 March 2022.

Comparability with EU member states

The general government debt and deficit figures used in the comparison of each of the 27 member states are fully consistent with those published in the Eurostat Government Finance Statistics – quarterly data: Quarter 4 2021 on 22 April 2022.

Comparability with G7 member states

The general government debt and deficit figures used in the comparison of G7 member states are fully consistent with those published in the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook on 19 April 2022.

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Manylion cyswllt ar gyfer y Bwletin ystadegol

Fraser Munro
public.sector.inquiries@ons.gov.uk
Ffôn: +44 1633 456402