Magazine article Public Finance

Numbers Game

Magazine article Public Finance

Numbers Game

Article excerpt

70% oppose

Not for turning

Seven in ten people oppose unilateral nuclear disarmament for the UK, while 24% support it, according to Ipsos Mori. Exactly the same split was recorded in 1987.

£1.54 trn

Up and away

UK public sector net debt (excluding banks) at the end of 2015 was just under £1,543bn, or 81% of GDP - an increase of £53.2bn over 2014's figure.

£43 bn

Sliding scale

The UK raised £43bn in corporate tax in 2014/15 - 2.4% of national income. This is slightly below the OECD average, the IFS notes, having fallen since the downturn.

Charitable trust

Research published in the autumn by third-sector research consultancy nfpSynergy shows how volatile public confidence in charities has been over the past decade.

While trust had already dipped to a nine-year low, polling was done just before the high-profile closure of Kids Company. This will surely push sentiment below the 42% low tidemark of summer 2007.

However, as nfpSynergy notes, trust seems to recover fairly rapidly after this kind of knock.

Pants on fire

Most public servants are fibbers and phonies, if recent research from Ipsos Mori can be believed. The British public told the polling company that builders and estate agents are more trusted to tell the truth than government ministers and other politicians, while doctors are pegged as vastly more trustworthy than NHS managers. Trade union officials are seen as more reliable than local government managers, and even a random stranger in the street is expected to provide more honesty than a civil servant or charity CEO.

You might want to take this information with a pinch of salt, however, given that the above data was collected by pollsters - trusted by only 53%.

States switch

Unemployment figures show a distinct change of pace for the UK around November 2011. From the downturn in 2008 to that point, changes to unemployment in the UK roughly mirrored those in the EU as a whole, rising and falling in tandem, with the UK rate a couple of points lower.

From November 2011, the UK stopped tracking the EU and started matching the US, which has seen unemployment fall steadily since 2010.

Chancellor George Osborne famously eased off on austerity at around the same time, in the 2011 Autumn Statement. Cause or coincidence? …

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