Friday, 25 December 2015

Britain for sale: £8 trillion

What would Britain be worth if we put it on the market? Official estimate reveals how much each person would receive if we sold the entire country and everything in it.

Britain would have a price tag of £8,063,000,000,000 if the whole country – and everything in it – was put up for sale, according to official Government figures.The total includes the value of all homes in the country, along with all other buildings, machinery, bridges, roads, the shares we own and the money in our back accounts.

It means if we decided to sell the entire country as a job lot - including all our homes – the pay-out would be £125,000 per person for each of the 64.6 million people in the country – or £302,000 per household, the ONS said.

It would, of course, leave us all homeless and would be conditional on finding a suitable buyer.

“The £8.1 trillion figure is a large number and it helps to think about it as a sum of money per person or per household,” said Wesley Harris, an ONS statistician.

“Residential property is the biggest and most valuable non-financial asset in the whole economy.

“Looking at the data we have been compiling since 1997 the value of dwellings in the UK has increased by over three times.”

The ONS report said: “At the end of 2014, the total net worth of the UK was estimated at £8.1 trillion.

This was equivalent to an average of £125,000 per person or £302,000 per household.”

The housing stock was valued at £5.1 trillion, or more than 60 per cent of the total price tag.

Between 2013 and the end of 2014, the houses in Britain increased in value by £408 billion, or nine per cent, and by £3.7 trillion since 1997.

The rise was mainly down to increasing house prices rather than to more homes being built, the ONS said.

Other prices included in the sums were:

• Currency in circulation and all the money in our bank accounts, valued at £1.4 trillion.

• Buildings and structures including roads, railways, bridges, sports stadia, warehouses and pipelines, put at £1.9 trillion.

• Machinery, equipment and weapons systems including all the cars and computers in the land, which were estimated to be worth £850 billion.

However, the financial sector saw a major slump over the same period which wiped out part of the growth in bricks and mortar.

“The financial corporations sector had an estimated net worth of minus £197 billion at the end of 2014, a decrease of £364 billion (219 per cent) compared with 2013,” said the ONS.

“This was the largest annual decrease and the first negative net worth for financial corporations since 2006.

“Financial corporations are institutional units whose principal activity is the production of financial services and, for example, include banks, building societies and insurance companies.”

Setting aside the buildings and other physical assets owned by financial institutions, their “financial net worth” decreased by £367 billion to minus £360 billion, and was the main contributory factor in the sector’s fall.

“This was a result of a decrease of £353 billion in the net value of ‘insurance, pension and standardised guarantee schemes’ due to an increase in the liability value to £3.6 trillion in 2014 compared with £3.1 trillion in 2013,” said the ONS report.

The Government was also in the red.

“The estimated net worth of the general government sector decreased to minus £450 billion at the end of 2014, meaning that the government continued to owe more than it owned in assets,” said the report.

The ONS used the official population estimates of 64.6 million to calculate how much money would result per head if we sold Britain, plus the household estimate of 26.7 million homes.

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