Public Sector Pensions Cost £1.1 trillion

Public Sector Pensions Cost... What?

PRESS ASSOCIATION -- The taxpayer's total liability for funding public sector pensions has hit £1.1 trillion, according to new official figures.

The scale of the obligations will be revealed for the first time in material being published by the Treasury.

The Whole of Government Accounts has been billed as giving a fresh insight into the public finances, laying the situation out as a listed company would.

Ministers are expected to use the information to reinforce their argument that pensions must be reformed, despite furious protests by public sector workers.

The accounts for 2009-10 will show that the pension liabilities stood at £1.1 trillion, according to coalition sources. That is significantly higher than the only other estimate of £770 billion given in 2008's Pre-Budget Report - although it is not clear if the figures were calculated in the same way.

They will also indicate that Public Finance Initiative (PFI) liabilities are far higher than the £5.1 billion previous admitted.

There was a further £29.9 billion of "off-book" debt for 2009-10, along with £5.9 billion of future capital commitments.

If added to the UK's conventional debt, the figures suggest that the UK government's total liabilities are close to £2 trillion.

A coalition source said the publication of the accounts would finally give the public a "true picture of the liabilities that have been built up for future generations".

The details emerged with the independent tax and spending watchdog expected to warn that public sector net debt could rise towards 100% of GDP as the increased life expectancy of Britons imposes a mounting strain.

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