The UK's public borrowing has ballooned to its worst level since records began, though the £163.4bn plunge into the red was lower than forecast in Chancellor Alistair Darling's Budget last month.
The total for the year to the end of March - excluding the temporary effects of Government financial intervention - fell short of Mr Darling's £167bn Budget forecast and was comfortably below his original £178bn estimate.
While the Government said the result confirmed the success of its actions to help the economy, experts said the undershoot could reignite the debate over the need for a planned National Insurance hike.
And the public finance figures were still the worst since at least the Second World War, confirming the magnitude of the task ahead for whoever forms the next government.
The Office for National Statistics said Britain added another £35.5bn in public sector net borrowing last month.
With the inclusion of financial intervention outlays and benefits - such as fees received by Royal Bank of Scotland for the toxic asset protection scheme - annual public borrowing hit £152.8bn, up from £86.9bn in 2008/09.
This saw net debt soar to £890bn in 2009/10 - a record 62% of gross domestic product.
The budget deficit widened by £14.8bn in March to take the gaping hole in public finances to an all-time record of £107.6bn over the financial year, more than double the £49.7bn a year earlier.
Borrowing has soared amid the recession as unemployment and huge Government spending to prop up the economy have taken their toll.
However, total tax receipts rose 3.8% in March and have now increased in four out of the last five months. VAT receipts also lifted after the rate reverted back to 17.5% in January, while corporation tax increased by a hefty 51.4%.
Jonathan Loynes, an economist at Capital Economics, said the figures provided the Government with a "modest pre-election boost" in beating its forecasts.
"But the big picture is that this is the biggest budget deficit since the Second World War and on a rough par with that of Greece."