UK borrowing halves in first half of tax year as Rishi Sunak readies budget

Asia's Tech News Daily

office for national statistics, budget and spending review, Rishi Sunak, GDP

British public borrowing fell by around half in the first six months of the current financial year compared with a year earlier, when the economy faced the full force of the COVID-19 pandemic, official figures showed on Thursday.

Public sector borrowing for the first six months of the 2021/22 year fell to 108.1 billion pounds, down by 101.2 billion pounds in April-September 2020 but roughly triple its level before the pandemic, the Office for National Statistics said.

Finance minister Rishi Sunak will present fresh budget forecasts on Oct. 27 which are expected to show borrowing this financial year on track to come in around 40 billion pounds below the most recent forecasts made in March thanks to faster economic growth.

“At the Budget and Spending Review next week I will set out how we will continue to support public services, businesses and jobs while keeping our public finances fit for the future,” Sunak said after Thursday’s data.

Public sector net borrowing for September alone dropped to 21.778 billion pounds ($30.1 billion) from a downwardly revised 16.824 billion pounds in August, slightly below the 22.6 billion pounds forecast by economists in a Reuters poll.

Britain’s budget deficit soared last financial year to its highest since World War Two at 15% of GDP but is expected to drop to just over half that this year due to the end of emergency economic support and stronger tax revenues.

Last month Sunak announced a 12 billion-pound tax rise on workers and employers, starting next year, to fund health and social care and next week’s budget will include longer-term plans to bring the budget closer to balance.

Thursday’s data showed public sector net debt totalled 2.219 trillion pounds, equivalent to 95.5% of gross domestic product.

While rock-bottom interest rates have kept debt servicing costs near record lows so far, Britain’s large stock of index-linked bonds mean interest bills are now picking up sharply as inflation rises.

The Bank of England has signalled it is moving towards its first interest rate hike since the pandemic.

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