New figures paint gloomy picture of UK finances

Public sector net borrowing rose by £600 million to £15.4 billion in December. Photo: Press Association

On Friday we'll know we are at the start of what could be a triple dip recession. The much anticipated GDP numbers, the total sum of all we make and sell, are not expected to be pleasant reading for the government.

But even before we get there, the public finance figures released this morning paint a gloomier than thought picture, with a gap of £15.4 billion between what the government spent and got in from our taxes in December.

That is worse than had been expected and, as number crunchers point out, the figures also show that public spending is not only rising, but the trend suggests its been rising faster than previously since the summer. Despite the reality of cuts in many areas being very real, away from the political rhetoric it is important to remember total spending is still going up.

This puts the national debt over an enormous £1.1trillion, more than 70 percent of our GDP. Add in the taxpayer support to the banks and it stands at much more than that, at 140 percent. While on Friday we will watch for moves of decimal points here and there. These enormous numbers are a reminder of how significant the challenges to the economy really are.