This sceptred isle, yours for just £5,000bn

Shakespeare summed it up as a royal throne of kings, a sceptred isle, a precious stone set in a silver sea, but modern government statisticians are a little less poetic. They just say it is worth £5,000bn.

That's the present value of Britain, should it be for sale on the property market, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) says.

To be precise, the ONS says that the country and all its land, buildings, vehicles, machinery, bridges and roads, with the shares we own and the money in our bank accounts, is worth £4,983,000,000,000.

The sum, calculated to help economists predict future growth, works out at £84,760.47 for each of the 58,789,194 people said to be in the country at the time of the most recent census.

"We found £5,000bn was the present market value of the UK, including the value of the land," Ian Hill, an ONS statistician, says. "That's risen a lot over the past few years because property prices have shot up. [We are] using investment data. Information like this has been produced since the 1950s but we now have a much more robust system which enables us to publish in a lot more detail."

As you might expect in Europe's principal property-owning democracy, people's homes accounted for £2,700bn, much of the total. They make up, more than half the amount featured in the "Capital Stock, Capital Consumption and Non-Financial Balance Sheets" for the end of 2002. This figure has more than doubled since 1994, when residential property was valued at £1,200bn by the ONS. A buoyant housing market and a growth in housing stock in that period has also meant residential housing now accounts for 55 per cent of the nation's capital compared with 43 per cent in 1994.

Although the country as a whole is stuffed with assets, the Government is deep in the red. After deducting the national debt and other obligations, its net worth is minus £124bn.

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