Belfast Telegraph

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Government still on target to reduce its borrowing

By Peter Cripps

Chancellor George Osborne has remained on track to meet his annual borrowing target, despite figures showing a bigger than expected rise last month.

Public sector net borrowing, excluding financial interventions such as bank bailouts, was £14bn in June, compared with £13.6bn the same month the previous year, the Office for National Statistics revealed.

This was higher than economists' expectations for a rise of £12.5bn. The larger than expected figure was due to a slight drop in income taxes, largely as a result of tax rebates.

However, there was some good news for the Chancellor, as in the financial year to date the Government has borrowed slightly less than they had in the previous year.

The Government has a target of reducing borrowing to £122bn in the current financial year from £143.2bn the previous year.

It had been thought that the Government had borrowed more this year than last year, but figures for April and May were revised downwards by £1.4bn by the ONS yesterday.

Interest payments on the Government's debt rose by 6% to £4.1bn and helped push overall expenditure up by 4.9% to £52bn, despite the austerity measures which are increasingly kicking in.

The Government borrowed £39.2bn in the first three months of its financial year, down from £39.5bn in the same period of the previous year.

The latest borrowing figures have pushed the UK's state debt up to £944.3bn, equivalent to 61.9% of Gross Domestic Product.

James Knightley, an economist at ING, said the marginal improvement so far this year reflects the fact that while tax revenues are up, "Government spending is not contracting in a significant way".

He added: "This is in no small part due to a rise in interest expenses given the UK's deepening debt position - 20% of UK debt is inflation linked and rising inflation has been pushing up the servicing costs on this debt."

Last year's borrowing figures were reduced by a one-off payment in April 2010 from the bankers' bonus tax, which was not repeated this year.

The levy on banks' balance sheets, which has replaced the bonus tax, has not yet started to come in this year.

A spokesman for the Treasury said the figures "show that the Government's fiscal plans remain on track and in-line with the overall forecast for the year from the independent Office for Budget Responsibility".


The number of billions by which the Government is hoping to cut its borrowing


From Belfast Telegraph