UK debt still climbs despite fall in lending
Britain's debt mountain was £10.7bn higher than expected in the last financial year as it rose to more than three-quarters of gross domestic product (GDP), despite a fall in annual borrowing.
Underlying public sector debt was £1,268.7bn for the year to the end of March, ahead of the £1,258bn forecast last month by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), as central government receipts were lower than the OBR expected.
It meant that the sum owed by the public purse rose more steeply than predicted to 75.8% of GDP, compared to the 74.5% OBR forecast.
Monthly figures were more heartening for George Osborne, as they showed the lowest level of public sector borrowing in March for 10 years, helping the chancellor narrowly to undershoot the OBR's forecast on the deficit.
Borrowing excluding the distorting effects of bank bail-outs was £6.7bn, better than expected and £4.7bn lower than the same month last year. It was the lowest March figure since 2004.
It helped the annual deficit fall to £107.7bn for 2013/14, against the most recent OBR forecast of £107.8bn.