Why the gulf between the two? Because of the bank crisis. This financial year a further £42 billion has needed to by pumped into the banks in various forms – not just Lloyds and RBS, but the smaller bank failures like Northern Rock and Dunfermline Building Society. The government needs the cash – to bung it to the banks – but it doesn’t want to count this in the national debt figures. Darling also revised down his estimate of the end cost to taxpayers of this mess to just £10billion. That looks like very wishful thinking. The risks – particularly given the near £300billion of dodgy debt RBS has just passed off the taxpayer via the Asset Protection Scheme – is that losses will be far greater. Bad as the debt numbers look, there’s a lot of sugar coating still going on via the “hope for the best” approach being taken to the banking crisis costs. When the hugely optimistic growth forecasts are taken into a account, the forecast for deficits are very much the best case scenario.