Belfast Telegraph

Economy has mushroomed in Queen's reign

By Margaret Canning

The UK economy is around four times bigger now than when Queen Elizabeth II came to the throne in 1952, according to a firm of business advisers.

PricewaterhouseCooper's Jubilee Budget also established that average incomes now are more than three times higher in real terms than in 1952, growing from £7,500 to £24,700.

Overall the worth of the UK economy has mushroomed from £377bn to £1,561bn through Her Majesty's reign.

Dr Esmond Birnie, PwC's chief economist in Northern Ireland, said the income rise was a "major achievement" which challenged the received wisdom the post-1952 period was a time of economic decline.

Tax as a share of national income had only edged up, from 36% of GDP to 38%, but government spending habits had changed drastically.

"The share of defence spending fell from around 25% in 1952 to only 5% today - although, in both years the UK was at war, Asia-Korea then and Afghanistan now - with corresponding rises in welfare spending on health, education, pensions and other social security benefits," Mr Birnie said.

"But with little scope to cut defence spending further there is a real challenge as to how we pay for further rises in public spending on health and pensions for an ageing population, without significant further increases in the tax burden."