The UK’s pressured finances suffered another blow last month as the public sector borrowed in January for the first time on record, official figures showed today.
Net borrowing was £4.3bn in a month that usually sees a seasonal surplus thanks to income and corporation tax, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
It is the first borrowing figure for a January since records began in 1993 and is likely to surprise economists who had predicted a repayment of £1bn.
And for the 10 months of the financial year so far, public sector net borrowing has reached £122.4bn.
The figures reflected the impact of the economic downturn on the UK’s finances as tax revenues slumped while spending on measures such as jobseeker’s allowance grew. It compares to a £5.3bn repayment in the same month last year.
The ONS said spending was £4.4bn higher than in January 2009, while receipts were down £4.2bn.
The UK's net debt hit £848.5bn, which is equivalent to 59.9% of the country's annual output.
Today’s data will renew pressure on the Government to set out plans to ease the burden on public finances, with many predicting a future of tax rises and spending cuts.