UK government borrowing higher than expected

UK government borrowing in February was higher than expected, according to official figures.


Borrowing was £8.4bn, in part because of higher benefits payments such as cost-of-living support.


Economists had predicted that borrowing would come in at £6bn for the month.


However, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the February number was £3.4bn lower than a year earlier, as the growth in tax receipts exceeded growth in spending.


It was also the fourth consecutive month where borrowing was down on the previous year.


In February, debt was 97.1% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which is a measure.


However, in February interest payable on debt fell by £1.1bn to £6.8bn, mainly because interest on government bonds is linked to one of the measures of inflation – the retail prices index, which had dropped.


One of the government’s key pledges is that debt should be falling as a percentage of GDP in five years’ time.


According to the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) – an independent body that looks at the government’s plans on tax and spending – that pledge is on track to be met.


However, debt is forecast to keep rising until 2028-29.

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