The UK economy; facts & figures on our national economy

The UK economy is often berated, sometimes admired but here are some straightforward facts about our national economy in action.

  • 6th largest economy in the World (by GDP, or Gross Domestic Product)
  • 2nd largest economy in Europe
  • Dominated by the service sector; The UK now predominately ‘produces’…services! These tend to be financial services, insurance,  business  consultancy, IT and the like. In total the service sector makes up 78% of total GDP
  • Agriculture remains big business, we can still produce 60% of our own food needs
  • The total worth of the UK economy, with all sectors and revenues combined is $2.83 trillion; the US $ is always used as a global benchmark as it remains the World’s first reserve currency, GBP £ is the 3rd reserve currency behind the Euro.
  • Our national debt stood at £1,270bn in April 2014; the national debt arises from the accumulation of annual deficits
  • The annual deficit builds up when the government spends more in a year than it accumulates through taxes and income. The projected revenue for 2014-15 is £648bn with expenditure estimated at £732bn; here we see a shortfall of £84bn. Recently we have heard talk of ‘cutting the deficit’ in political and press narrative, indeed the shortfall is lower than the year before, in reality however it means that another £84bn is added to the UK debt figure
  • Governments can raise revenue through taxation on business or individuals or by cutting public services; the latter is described as means of austerity. Publically owned services can also be sold off to private corporations to raise revenue (privatisation) , the Post Office is the UK’s most recent example – the £3bn funds however do not eat significantly into the overall national debt
  • The UK suffered a deeper recession than all but one of the G7 nations (Italy) following the 2008 economic downturn. This resulted in the UK experiencing the slowest recovery in growth against our major European partners. Recovery has several measures but principally it means growth in GDP across economic quarters and annual periods
  • We work some of the longest hours in Europe, but we also have one of the lowest levels of productivity amongst workers in Western Europe…those facts may be linked!
  • The UK population loves property ownership but the global crisis of 2008 signalled a slowdown in mortgage availability; this saw an upsurge in more people moving into rented accommodation. The largest property transaction in UK history is the sale of Manchester’s Trafford centre (Retail Park) in 2011 for £1.6bn. An average UK household mortgage now costs a ratio of x4.4 the average combined income, the pre-2008 peak was x4
  • Inner London, measured by GDP per capita (worth per person in income value), is now the richest area in Europe
  • The UK lost its triple AAA credit rating in 2013 as our national debt was considered too high and our asset base was considered risky by international standards
  • Our annual GDP grew by 3.1% in 2013-2014, the main growth was attributed to household consumption fuelling fears that personal debt may be a risky growth indicator


Data gathered from the ONS (Office for National Statistics)

The Blue Book

Picture courtesy of Jonathon Yorke

Alex Swatton

Alex Swatton is an Executive Editor at Clarity News. He has written online for Left Foot Forward and Shifting Grounds and volunteers locally on political and societal issues. He has a degree in Politics & Sociology from the University of Sheffield, a Diploma in Psychology and History, and is studying towards a Diploma in Neuro-Linguistic Programming alongside full-time work. You can contact him on twitter @Folkestone147 or email alex@claritynews.co.uk