How fortunate, then, that Burning Our Money is prepared to take the time to work it out.
We start with the official National Debt—Brown's figure, as published by the Office for National Statistics and charted above. When last sighted (figures up to Dec 2007), that was £536.5 billion, or 37.7% of GDP. So still within Brown's 40% rule.
We first need to add PFI debt. According to HM Treasury, its discounted present value is now £91bn, but since that ignores this year's new commitments and all payments beyond 2031-32, we'll round it up to £100 bn (see this blog), of which a mere £5bn has been counted in by the ONS.
Next, we need to add the liability for those unfunded public sector pensions (eg see this blog). According to the latest estimate from the IEA, that's another £1,025 bn.
Then we have the cost of decommissioning our old nuclear power stations. That's an explicit taxpayer liability we reckon comes in at around £70bn (see this blog).
And don't forget Northern Rock's £100bn debt, now formally added to the public sector balance sheet by the ONS, even though they haven't yet crunched the precise numbers (see this blog).
Add in Network Rail's debt at around £21bn, all fully guaranteed by taxpayers but excluded from the government's balance sheet.
The grand total is £1,847.5bn.
Or 130% of GDP.
Or £74 grand of public sector debt hanging round the neck of every single household in Britain.
PS Even our £1.85 trillion figure excludes one of the really scary numbers. As we've blogged before, if we include the commitment to pay those totally unfunded state pensions, the total debt figure increases to around £9 trillion. Or £360 grand for every household.
I don't have any stock phrases for that. It's just too big.
So, I'll just say again, fucking hellski...