Skip to main content

What is the UK worth?

Have you ever wondered how much everything in the UK is worth?

Well, the figure is out this morning from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) – it’s called the national balance sheet – and it’s £7.6 trillion. This is equivalent to an average of £119,000 per person or £289,000 per household.

That figure is what you get if you add up the wealth of all the households and all the companies, and the government and not-for-profit organisations in the country at the end of last year. It includes such things as shares and deposits and non-financial items, for example houses and machinery. This isn’t like gross domestic product (GDP), which is a measure of how much gets produced each year in the country, the national balance sheet is what you would get if you sold everything at its current market value.

And it’s gone up – at the end of 2012 it was £7.3tn. Without removing the effects of inflation, estimates of UK net worth have more than doubled from 1997 to 2013. Since 1997 they have risen consistently, with the exception of the economic downturn in 2008 and 2009.

It turns out that almost all of the wealth in the country is owned by households and not-for-profits. The figure for them is £8.5tn, but the overall figure is dragged down by things like non-financial corporations, which are worth -£1.2tn and government, which is worth -£0.2tn.

How do they end up with negative values? In the case of government it’s because the debts they owe, mainly in the form of bonds, outweigh the assets they own such as buildings.
The non-financial corporations have large liabilities, mostly in the form of shares and other securities owned by households and other organisations, which outweighs assets such as machinery.

Homes account for 61% of the country’s net wealth – their value rose by 4.7% over the year to £4.7tn, which is over 3 times their estimated value in 1997 of £1.4tn.

So I hope that coming up to Christmas everybody is feeling much wealthier than they did before ?