National balance sheet estimates for the UK: 2021

Annual estimates of the market value of financial and non-financial assets for the UK, providing a measure of the nation's wealth.

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14 November 2022

The ONS advised users that more time was required to produce a Blue Book 2022 consistent gross fixed capital formation (GFCF) dataset. This affected some data inputs used to produce Capital stocks and consumption of fixed capital and the National balance sheet estimates. We will continue to work with our data suppliers to resolve this and will update the release calendar when we will be able to make the data in these publications available.

In the interim period, we recommend users continue working with the preliminary estimates, published by the ONS in May 2022, as the data sets are consistent with those found in the Capital stocks and fixed capital consumption and National balance sheet.

For more information, please contact Media Relations Office: media.relations@ons.gov.uk

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Contact:
Email Marianthi Dunn and Tusan Nguyen

Release date:
2 December 2021

Next release:
To be announced

1. Main points

  • The UK's net worth was revised upwards by £0.2 trillion since the preliminary estimate, to £10.7 trillion in 2020, an average of £159,000 per person.

  • Growth in the UK's net worth was revised up by 0.6 percentage points to 5.0% in 2020 since the preliminary estimate; this surpassed the post-2008 global economic downturn average growth of 4.3%.

  • Households' net worth grew to £11.2 trillion, at a rate of 8.4%, this was a marginal 0.1 percentage point below the pre-2008 global economic downturn average growth, driven by increases in land value, defined benefit pension schemes and bank deposits.

  • General government net worth fell by £445 billion in 2020, this is the largest fall on record owing to decreases in financial net worth.

  • Financial net worth increased by £63 billion in 2020, compared with 2019. Although net worth remains negative by £0.5 trillion, it is the first time since 2016 that net worth has increased.

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This bulletin updates and replaces the preliminary estimates for 2020, published in April 2021.

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2. UK net worth

Following the slight fall in 2019, the UK's net worth grew by £0.5 trillion to £10.7 trillion in 2020. This ­­­was the strongest growth since 2016, predominantly driven by an increase in the value of non-produced assets which almost entirely consist of land.

Growth in net worth was 5.0% in 2020, 0.7 percentage points above the post-downturn average growth of 4.3%. Both non-produced and financial assets made large contributions towards the UK's growth in net worth during 2020 at 78.8% and 12.5%, respectively. This was also the first time that net financial assets made a positive contribution to the UK's net worth since 2016. Produced assets grew by 0.9% in 2020, which was the weakest growth since 2010, and accounted for 8.7% of the growth in the UK's net worth.

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3. Household net worth

Household net worth grew to £11.2 trillion in 2020, an increase of 8.4%. This was the second highest growth since the 2008 global economic downturn and, notably, was marginally below the pre-downturn average growth rate of 8.5%.

Land contributed to 40.1% of growth in households' net worth, which was driven by a 7.3% increase in average house prices. This rise was likely to have been affected by the reduction in stamp duty rates.

Similarly, "insurance, pension and standardised guarantee schemes" accounted for 39.7% of the growth in households' net worth, and has been revised up since the preliminary estimate because of methodological changes included in Blue Book 2021. This growth was mainly driven by the increase in the value of defined benefit pension schemes, which resulted from historically low gilt yields

"Currency and deposits" contributed 21.5% of the growth in households' net worth. Increases in bank deposits were consistent with a sharp increase in the household savings ratio, which reached its highest level on record in 2020.

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4. General government net worth

General government net worth fell by £445 billion in 2020 to minus £1,494 billion, the largest annual fall recorded. Government financial liabilities increased significantly and were consistent with the increases in current government expenditure because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

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5. Financial net worth

The UK's financial net worth increased by £63 billion. This remained negative at minus £0.5 trillion in 2020, meaning the value of the UK's financial liabilities continued to exceed the value of financial assets. This was the first time UK financial assets increased more than financial liabilities since 2016 and have therefore made a positive contribution to growth in the UK's net worth. This was mainly attributed to greater overseas bank deposits and loan contracts with UK banks. The factors that would have contributed to this include: the availability of financial support for businesses, cheaper forms of funding, changes in demand and reluctance to spend because of the uncertainty during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

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6. UK national balance sheet estimates data

The UK national balance sheet estimates
Dataset | Released 2 December 2021
Annual estimates of the market value of financial and non-financial assets for the UK, including by sector and asset.

The UK national balance sheet time series
Dataset | Released 2 December 2021
Annual estimates of the market value of financial and non-financial assets for the UK, providing a measure of the nation's wealth.

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7. Glossary

Balance Sheet

This is a statement, drawn up for a particular point in time, of the values of assets economically owned and of liabilities owed by an institutional unit or group of units.

A balance sheet is drawn up for resident institutional sectors and subsectors, the total national economy and the rest of the world.

The balance sheet completes the sequence of accounts, showing the ultimate effect of the entries in the production, distribution and use of income, and accumulation accounts on the stock of wealth of an economy.

Net worth

This is the balancing item of a balance sheet and shows the value of assets owned, less the value of all outstanding liabilities.

Financial net worth

The balancing item of financial assets and liabilities is called financial net worth.

Produced non-financial assets

These are outputs from production processes with a lifespan of more than a year (for example, buildings and machinery), which contribute to the production of goods and services, without being completely used up or transformed in the process.

Non-produced non-financial assets

These are economic assets that come into existence other than through processes of production.

Financial assets and liabilities

These are economic assets, comprising all financial claims, equity and the gold bullion component of monetary gold. Liabilities are established when debtors are obliged to provide a payment or a series of payments to creditors.

General government

General government consists of central and local government.

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8. Measuring the data

User group

We aim to continuously improve the quality and relevance of our national statistics and are reviewing the sources and methods used to estimate series in the national balance sheet. As part of the process we would like to establish a user group to keep users informed of our progress and give them the opportunity to share their views and requirements.

If you would like to be involved in the user group, please email capstocks@ons.gov.uk.

National balance sheet

The national balance sheet is a measure of the wealth, or total net worth, of the UK. It shows the estimated market value of financial assets and non-financial assets. The data are used to monitor economic performance, to inform monetary and fiscal policy decisions and for international comparisons.

The components of net worth can be roughly categorised as produced assets, non-produced assets and net financial assets. Non-produced assets are land. Produced assets are either inventories or net capital stocks in current prices, which include:

  • dwellings

  • other buildings and structures

  • machinery, equipment and weapons

  • intellectual property products

  • cultivated assets

Net financial assets include:

  • monetary gold and special drawing rights

  • currency and deposits

  • debt securities

  • loans

  • equity and investment shares

  • insurance, pension and standardised guarantee schemes

  • financial derivatives and employee stock options

  • other accounts receivable or payable

The national balance sheet is compiled following international guidance from the UN's system of national accounts (SNA) 2008. The SNA defines an asset as a product with a store of value representing a benefit or series of benefits, which accrue to the economic owner by holding or using the entity over a period of time. Assets are also a means of carrying economic value from one period to another. All assets are "economic" assets, they must have an owner and there needs to be risks associated with producing and holding these assets. Therefore, they exclude human capital, natural capital and household durables.

All data referring to net worth in this bulletin are annual estimates at current prices and include changes in prices, as well as in the volume of assets. These data use market value, which is an estimate of how much these assets would sell for if sold on the market today.

Annual growth rates are calculated as compound annual growth rates.

References to the pre-downturn period refer to the years 1995 to 2007, while the post downturn period refer to the years 2009 to 2020.

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9. Strengths and limitations

Data in this publication for 2020 have been revised since the preliminary estimate as new data sources were available at the time of this publication. Revisions to non-produced assets are because of revised estimates from the House Price Index, the Valuation Office Agency and new company annual reports. Revisions to produced assets are explained in the net capital stock and consumption of fixed capital release. Revisions to net financial assets estimates are because of introducing the financial services survey (FSS), wealth and asset survey (WAS) and the financial survey of pension schemes (FSPS). Further information is available.

Compared with the preliminary estimate, net worth has been revised upwards by £0.2 trillion in 2020.

More information on the strengths and limitations of the data can be found in the National balance sheet QMI.

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Contact details for this Statistical bulletin

Marianthi Dunn and Tusan Nguyen
capstocks@ons.gov.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)1633 455643