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Dark economy

July 2014

The dark side of the economy has brought billions of pounds into the UK, with the nation benefiting from drugs and prostitution. In 2009, these activities brought nearly £10bn a year into the UK, with prostitution boosting Britain’s gross domestic product by £5.3bn, figures have claimed.

Citing official data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the Telegraph revealed that illegal drug money was shoring up the economy to the tune of £4.4bn.

Prostitution and drugs combined make up 0.7 per cent of the UK’s GDP, more than real estate, which only occupies 0.35 per cent.

While the figures are from 2009 — the latest set of released ONS figures — it is likely this figure has risen significantly over the past five years.

The Telegraph said the inclusion of illegal drugs and prostitution in official figures was part of radical changes being made to European Union regulations on how to calculate GDP.

According to its report, this is part of many amendments to the way the UK’s national accounts are made up, which will include the contribution of ‘non-profit institutions serving households’, such as charities, universities and trade unions, which the ONS valued at £24bn.

In a statement from the ONS, Graeme Walker, head of national accounts, said the ONS was using estimates rather than seeking direct contact with pimps and dealers to get their financial figures.

He said, ‘In terms of the new concepts coming in, illegal activities is the biggest. We don’t think it would be right to directly collect information on [illegal drugs and prostitution] and we have no plans to contact people involved in these activities’.




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