National Debt is the accumulated debt built up by the government over a
number of years that has not yet been repaid (i.e. the debt issued to finance
government spending has not yet "matured" - been paid back to
holders of the debt).
One way of
measuring the scale of Government debt is by looking at the debt - to - GDP
ratio. The trend in this for the UK economy and also the Euroland economies
is shown in the chart below
years the UK economy has enjoyed a period of sustained and fairly strong
economic growth. This has improved the government's own finances and lead to
a gradual decline in the debt-to-GDP ratio. In 1996 the figure stood at 55%.
By the end of 2000, this is forecast to have dipped to 51%. This is
comfortably within the EU Maastricht Convergence Criteria target of a gross
government debt / GDP ratio of 60%.