Home Business News Sunak told ‘be honest with the British public’ as national debt continues to rise and is not ‘falling’

Sunak told ‘be honest with the British public’ as national debt continues to rise and is not ‘falling’

by LLB political Reporter
20th Dec 23 1:22 pm

The statistics watchdog has slapped down the Prime Minister and accused Rishi Sunak of “undermining trust” in the public as national debt is continuing to rise.

Last month Sunak said on his twitter account that “debt is falling” and he also told MPs “we have indeed reduced debt” on 22 November during Prime Minister’s Questions which was also the day of the Autumn Statement.

Sir Robert Chote, chairman of the UK Statistics Authority, said that it is a fact that national debt continues to rise.

Sir Robert warned Sunak he is risking “undermining trust” in how the government uses data on national debt.

Sir Robert said, “Members of the public cannot be expected to understand the minutiae of public finance statistics and the precise combination of definitional choices that might need to be made for a particular claim to be true.

“So, when speaking about the public finances and making claims of this sort, intelligent transparency demands that ministers, other senior politicians, departments and political parties ask themselves how someone with an interest, but little specialist knowledge is likely to interpret a particular claim and to explain themselves clearly if they choose to depart significantly from that in definitional terms.”

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The Prime Minister set out at the start of this year that national debt is one his five pledges ahead of the next general election.

Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman, Sir Robert wrote in response to a letter from Sarah Olney, “The average person in the street would probably not have interpreted the prime minister’s claims in the way that his office explained them to us and would likely have assumed that he was claiming that debt was already falling or that the Government’s policy decisions had lowered it at the fiscal events – neither of which is the case.

“This has clearly been a source of confusion and may have undermined trust in the Government’s use of statistics and quantitative analysis in this area.”

Underlying public sector net debt will rise to just 85% of the gross domestic product (GDP) from last year to 93.2% in 2026 to 2027, then falling to 92.8% some two years after that, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR).

Olney said, “Rishi Sunak knows he has no good story to tell on the UK economy, so he has resorted to making one up.

“The least this no-growth prime minister could do is be honest about it with the British public.”

A Government spokesman said, “The OBR is crystal clear – thanks to the long-term decisions we have taken, we are on track to get debt falling.

“In contrast, Labour and the Lib Dems are planning to put up spending and fund it through higher borrowing and higher taxes, exacerbating cost of living pressures for hardworking families.”

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