The true scale of Britain's national indebtedness was laid bare by the Office for National Statistics yesterday: almost £4 trillion, or £4,000bn, about four times higher than previously acknowledged.
It quantifies the burden that will be placed on future generations, and it is the ONS's first attempt to draw together the "off-balance-sheet" liabilities that have been accumulated by the state. The figures imply a huge "intergenerational transfer" – broadly in favour of today's "baby boomer" generation at the expense of younger people and future generations.
How is it possible for the estimates to have been that far off? Either someone is lying now in order to justify gutting the social safety net, or someone was lying very recently to avoid a hard decision.